Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: Hard as a Rock

Hard as a Rock (Gargoyles #3)

by Christine Warren


 Bestselling author Christine Warren returns to a mesmerizing
world in which the laws of attraction are never written in stone—and love knows no bounds…
Her name is Wynn Powe. A woman of great instinct and inner resources—and insatiable beauty—Wynn has returned to Chicago to do what she does best: Locate Guardian statues. But the Order of Eternal Darkness has beat her to the punch, and the statue she’s come to investigate has been blown to smithereens. An elusive enemy is on her trail…and this time, she’s on her own. Until a mysterious package falls into Wynn’s hands—one that contains contain a chunk of old stone, along with instructions for the spell required to summon a new Guardian.
Enter Knox. He’s a Guardian magically imbued with the skills and memories of his race…and drop-dead, expertly-chiseled good looks. Bound to Wynn as his Warden, Knox vows to learn the truth about the destroyed Guardian—and protect Wynn at all costs. But he never could have imagined the fierce attraction that has taken hold of him, body and soul. Is his desire for Wynn worth the risk of being destroyed by the Order? The only thing he knows for sure is that he won’t go down without a fight. Nor will he pass up a night of pure blind passion...
Themes: gargoyles, magick, paranormal
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating:
 Ok let’s be honest there just aren’t that many series out there that revolve around a group of gargoyles out to save the world from demons.  Christine Warren’s newest series all about the misadventures of a group of sexy Guardians, who shift into gargoyles for their stasis, and the women that are their mates, is almost as fabulous as her Others series, though I might be biased since I’m more of a werewolf fan. But the really great part of any story is the way that an author manages to humanize her superheroes and show us that love is the one underlying theme in any relationship.  I have followed this series since book one hit the review shelves and with each one I find myself finding something new to like, and of course, there is a new HOT Guardian to fall in lust with in each book. If you haven’t read the previous novels, I have to say you will be a little bit lost, while there is sufficient information to keep you from losing interest, having the full background is the only way to really understand and appreciate these novels as they are SO tightly linked.  I am looking forward to seeing whose book will be next, though I have a small idea.  Full of laughter, sadness, sensuality and sweetness Warren’s writing and her characters always have something special to keep you coming back for more. 
This story picks up right where book two ended, with Wynn traveling to a middle of nowhere mansion in the Chicago suburbs looking for the Guardian that her friend Ella has traced.  This guardian is the next one needed to fight the big bad that has begun to invade our world, but she immediately finds that her luck has run out.  Just as she has given up all hope of surviving her little trip, a huge and intimidating beast shows up to come to her rescue.  Knox has been summoned, though no one can explain how and he appears just in time to save Wynn.  Filled with the knowledge of the ages, passed to all Guardians upon their creation, Knox knows that he needs to keep Wynn safe, even if he doesn’t quite understand her attraction or the emotions she brings out in him. Together they begin to unravel the dangerous plot around them, on the hunt for the newest disciple of the demons and his plot, as well as Wynn’s missing Warden brother.  But as they get deeper and deeper into their investigations, the passion between them becomes too much to resist and they fall into each other’s arms… and ultimately hearts.  When the battle begins for the safety of the world and the chance to defeat evil, will Knox’s love for Wynn keep him from fulfilling his duty, or can they each find a path to fulfill their destiny but still be able to be together?
Even though Knox springs into full life from nothingness, he is by no means a shallow individual, and the man has no understanding of naiveté.  His bravery, selflessness, and defense of those around him are tempered with intelligence, passion, and wit, especially when dealing with Wynn and her insecurities.  He is a fabulous character, even when he’s being a smartass, and it is obvious he was made just for Wynn.  While he battles the dangers around them, he fights a second war with Wynn to get her to give their relationship a chance.  His mate is a stubborn woman, but she'll soon learn his head truly is hard as a rock (yes, pun intended).  Wynn on the other hand was a bit annoying at times.  Honestly, her lifelong dream—becoming a personal warden to a Guardian—comes true through sheer luck and she is determined to resist the change every step of the way, even knowing it hurts Knox.  She’s more than willing to be with him and take him into her body, when things get more intense and emotions become invested, she pulls back again and again.  In the end, I was surprised she finally found a way to bend and accept the flow that fate has pushed her into.  She also has some seriously sad moments to deal with and thankfully, she learns to lean on Knox when she falls apart so he can give her a strong foundation to fall back on. 
Overall, Hard as a Rock was a surprisingly intense and interesting novel that while focusing on the relationship between the H/h, also carries a big portion of the overall plot against the demons and the Order. The detail that goes into something as intricate as this series, with so many moving subplots and characters across so many settings, shows the true skill of the author, especially being able to work in some sexy and passionate scenes as well as a life-long love.  Knox was one of those characters that was just given the best lines, making you laugh, think, and groan, all in the very best ways, while still being able to kick ass and protect those around him.  Wynn had her ups and downs for me; in the beginning, her resistance to accepting Knox and their mating was growl-inducing, but as we learned more about her insecurities, it was nice to see Knox have to slowly overcome her prejudices so she could accept them.  The passion between them, even when they haven’t fully accepted their mating, is palpable and intense even when they are only thinking about each other, but when the love is accepted and shared—phew, the heat becomes exponentially higher.  I am looking forward to seeing whose book is next, since in all previous books, we at least got a small hint, and though I have a small idea who it could be, there are no guarantees.  But no matter who is next I know it will be someone awesome and I cannot wait to get to read it.  If you’re looking for a dark and sensual story, with some moments of lightness, Warren’s Guardian series is going to be right up your alley, as long as you have an open mind about what truly makes a person a Hero.

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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Review: Wicked Dark Dragon

Wicked Dark Dragon (Dragon Heat #3)

by Lolita Lopez


 Adopted a few weeks after birth, Ivy Morales suspects that
she might not be totally human. Fully aware that one whisper of such insanity would land her in a mental institution, she keeps the outlandish thought to herself. But there's no ignoring the increasingly vivid and stunningly powerful dreams of an ancient blood feud that plague her nightly—or the darkly erotic turn those dreams have recently taken.
Drawn to Mexico for Spring Break, Ivy unwittingly stumbles right into the path of the same evil presence from her mysterious dreams. Kidnapped and held hostage, she has only one chance to survive. She reaches out to the wickedly sexy man from her dreams and prays he'll answer her call for help.
Welsh dragon shifter Ian Madoc struggles to understand the strange dream connection he shares with this unknown woman. In all his centuries of life, he's never experienced anything like it—and it unsettles him. When the dreams turn to pleas for help, Mad rushes off in the middle of the night, hell-bent on saving the young woman he fears may be his mate.
But rescuing Ivy from the clutches of the Knights is only the beginning of Mad's problems. When Ivy's true identity is revealed, old secrets and a close friend's betrayal put him at odds with the rest of the Brotherhood. Protecting the dragon species is no longer his top priority. He'll do anything to keep Ivy safe, even if it means walking away from the only life he's ever known.
Themes: dragons, magick, paranormal
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
The dragons are invading once again! Invading my mind and my bookshelves, to be sure.  The third installment in the Dragon Heat series was interesting and sweet, with a woman escaping hell to be awakened to the heat within herself by the sexy beast that has capture her heart and soul.  If you have read previous stories in this series it seems that the timing of this book overlaps a bit with previous stories, but I loved it anyway.  Ian “Mad” Madoc is a great character, sweet, strong and deadly all while being a good friend to his new mate.  Ivy was a woman whose world has collided with the hidden world of paranormals that has always been a part of her life, even if she had no idea about it.  I have enjoyed each book in this series, though some of the characters are asses that focus too much on the external damage caused by others and not enough on the drama they cause with their callousness.  The next book in the series, starring Niko, I believe, is going to be awesome and I cannot wait to see him lose his heart to a human. 
Mad is the kind of mate that any girl could wish for, sweet, brave, loving, and deadly to his woman’s enemies, but he is a bit overwhelming for the likes of Ivy.  I especially enjoyed the way he remained determined not to give into his base animal instincts and needs just to give Ivy the time she needed to make a decision about their mating.  When his friends deceive them both into rushing things, he resists for her sake right up until she seduces him and convinces him that she’s ready for him.  Ivy was a sweet if somewhat shallow character, but I liked her despite that.  She was still very young in many ways and being forced to handle a long and torturous imprisonment, drastic changes in her worldview, and a sexy and attentive new mate, all at once, was a bit much for her.  Overall, the story was short and pretty good, with some danger, drama, passion and love.  It was also nice to see Griff and know his mating was going well.  This series is interesting and I hope that future books might be a bit longer so Lopez has time to expound on her characters and really get into the grit of the emotions that drive these mystical and fabulous creatures. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: Highland Fling

Highland Fling (The McLaughlins #4)

by Shelli Stevens


Delonna comes by her Scottish-style frugality honestly-her parents' spendthrift ways
once left her temporarily homeless. She's been tending bar at McLaughlin's Pub, looking forward to the day she can call her own shots. Until her now ex-boyfriend makes off with her hard-earned savings. Now she's got a bookie breathing threats down her neck in an apparent attempt to squeeze blood from a turnip.

Aleck McLaughlin has three good reasons to keep his hands off the delectable Delonna. One, he's her boss. Two, she's a good ten years younger. Three, he's sworn to never again leave his heart vulnerable.
Her predicament sends all those reasons out the window, and Aleck moves her in with him for protection, then whisks her away on a whirlwind trip from Whidbey Island to Scotland.
The romance of being in Edinburgh only increases their need for one another. But it quickly becomes clear they're facing a past that's just as painful as the present is dangerous...
Warning: A sexy, broody, pub owner determined to seduce his flirty, bombshell bartender. Not-so-hidden dangers, travels to Scotland, and maybe a little spanky panky.
Themes: erotica, Sexy Scot
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating:

Poor deluded Aleck and his need to keep love out to prevent hurt… silly, silly man! The final story in the family saga of the spunky and sensual McLaughlin clan has landed and the end has arrived with a vengeance.  I have read many series by Shelli Stevens, but this is by far my favorite so far and I was sad to see it end, but thrilled to have gotten to go on this wild ride with sexy scots.  Stevens has a way of writing that keeps everything down to earth, reminding me of just a good friend telling a story about a couple she once knew, and including the slightest bit of intrigue to keep everything fictional.  Aleck and Delonna have been circling each other a long time now, each of them dealing with their own issues, but when close quarters force intimacy they are forced to deal with the emotions and vulnerabilities that arise.  And let me not neglect to mention the rich and beautiful settings Shelli provides for her characters to call home, from the small island off the coast of Washington state to the historic Scottish city of Edinburgh.  If you missed the first three stories, shame on you, go back and read them right now, then you can appreciate the greatness that is this family and experience all the craziness of these four siblings falling in love.
Delonna’s life has just gone from bad to worse—her ex has robbed her blind and in the process placed her right into the sights of a dangerous thug, determined to use Delonna to get what he wants from her ex.  Faced with the danger to Delonna, Aleck’s white knight genes kick in and he jumps in to work to keep her safe until her ex is caught. Despite her reluctance and resistance.  He never imagined how hard it would be to resist Delonna when she decides that it is past time they explore the passion that simmers between them.  As they work and live together, waiting for the other shoe to drop, they each learn more about one another and begin to wonder if there might be a chance for more than a brief affair.  But Aleck’s past still haunts him and only a truly eye-opening event will make him see the importance of embracing the little moments and seizing the chances given to them for happiness.
Throughout this story I found myself wishing for the whole story, the true reasons why Aleck’s so resistant to an HEA and when the full story finally comes out I had to reach for the tissues for sure.  But while I can see why he is wary of opening his heart to another woman, there comes a time when a person has to see what’s right in front of them instead of living in the past.  Thankfully, circumstances force him to accept this fact and find a way to accept that the love he could have with Delonna is more important that any fears he might have.  It was hard to see him break down, but in the end, it was needed to show his character’s growth.  Delonna too has some issues to overcome, but she accepts the inevitability of their relationship long before Aleck, proving her the smart of the two.
Highland Fling was a great story revolving around two individuals who have been burned by love in the past and the one universal truth—love conquers all.  Delonna was an interesting mix of strength and vulnerability, sexiness and sweetness and I loved seeing her interact with not only Aleck, but their friends and family as well.  She is the kind of heroine that any woman can relate to, she’s made bad choices in the past, overcome struggles, but has more still to learn as she grows up.  Aleck was a bit of a stubborn ass here and there, but that might have been more of a byproduct to his alpha, head of the family personality and the hurts in his past, than true pig-headedness.  When these two come together, there is enough heat to burn even innocent bystanders and I can only say I wanted to book to go on and on, but I did love the ending.  There was also a surprising short epilogue at the end of the story that I loved a lot and was thrilled to read as we get a glimpse of everyone several years later.  Another successful and sensual series by an author that has kept me intrigued series after series and that will for many years to come I’m sure.
*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review: Highlander's Folly

The Highlander's Folly (Loch Moigh #3)

by Barbara Longley


A brave fifteenth-century Highlander fiercely devoted to his foster family, Hunter of clan MacKintosh can defeat any man in battle. Thanks to his Fae gifts, he can read the intent of his opponents and guess their next moves. But when the faerie Madame Giselle sends Hunter to the present day, he stumbles into a staged battle and rescues a young knight—only to discover that the knight is a woman, and she’s anything but a damsel in distress.
Meghan McGladrey learned martial arts and sword fighting from her father, a time-traveling Highlander himself. To Hunter’s surprise, Meghan is as skilled as any knight. When both of them are pulled back to the fifteenth century, Meghan becomes desperate to return to her time. Hunter, who is pledged to another, begins to fall for the beautiful, brave warrior as they fight side by side against a common enemy. Now, he must decide which matters more: his honor, or following his heart.
Themes: time travel, magick, historical
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating:
Returning to the lands of magick and mayhem, where the Fae are just as likely to help you as they are to turn your life completely upside down, Highlander’s Folly was another great addition to a series that has personally captured my attention and imagination and one that I find myself dying for every time a new story releases.  Longley’s writing, characters, and richly detailed stories are enough to capture the hearts of any romance reader, whether you prefer paranormal, historical or contemporary, because each story gives you a little of each subgenre, meshed together magically and with the heart to bring you back to the basics of love.  Until this series, I have only ever read one other series about time travel I was really able to get in to, but Loch Moigh is so well done that I can’t resist returning to learn more about these awesome and magical characters.  Hunter and Meghan were both great characters and so perfectly matched, even when he was being bullheaded and I just knew that if they could find a way they would have a long and happy life together, in whatever century they ended up living in.  If you have missed the previous stories in the series, you will miss out on a lot of the subtext, but there is enough information that you can follow along, though my recommendation is, you go back to the beginning and read the entire trilogy, of course.  In the meantime, Hunter and Meghan’s adventure as they fall in love and deal with the differences in their cultures is enough to keep you enthralled, never fear on that point.
Hunter has been a favorite character of mine since book one, when he was just a scraggly little guy stealing the heart of a displaced 21st century woman and the highland laird that she falls in love with.  His story was not exactly an easy one, but he grew into a great man and one that has many important qualities, not the least of which is his honor and dedication to keeping promises.  But his hard head and stubborn adherence to some promises keep him from accepting the gift of love right in front of him, determined that he and Meghan cannot be together because of a promise made almost two decades earlier in a moment of weakness.  Other than that, it is obvious he is a good man, sexy, sweet and willing to sacrifice for even a stranger if it is the right thing to do, and Meghan is his one vulnerability, even as she makes him stronger.  Meghan has been pulled from everything and almost everyone she knows, thrust into the past and forced to deal with the antiquated beliefs of men and their treatment of women.  Despite all that though she holds her own, defending herself and those around her, and earns the esteem of Hunter and his men with her skills and intelligence—not to mention her beauty.  She is immediately attracted to Hunter, despite him basically kidnapping her, and tries to fight that attraction as much as possible.  When they both begin to give in to their attraction, however, she begins to hope there might be a chance for them to have a future, even though she misses her family and plans to return to them.  Being around Hunter as he chases another woman was never part of her plan though.  Meghan handles the hurdles thrown her way very well, even though Hunter often disregards her emotions, leaving her heartbroken, and her own stubbornness keeps her from allowing him to see just how badly he hurts her.  Essentially, she is a woman well before her time, a warrior in every sense of the word, and something that the men of medieval Scotland are very unprepared for—which I LOVED. 
All in all Highlander’s Folly led you down a road of discovery, healing hurts, and overcoming vulnerabilities to bring together two perfectly flawed, but perfectly matched individuals in a love for the ages, one that transcends all barriers of time, space, and culture.  Hunter has some surprising changes occur in his life, beyond losing his heart to a 21st-century woman, and watching him grow and deal with those issues was magical.  Though he was pigheaded and blind at times to the havoc he wreaked on the women in his life, I think that was more of the ingrained obliviousness that accompanies most male brains.  Meghan was a woman after my own heart, one of those women I want to grow up to be.  She was kick-ass but still sweet, loving, intelligent, and quick-witted, not to mention sarcastic at just the right moments.  Seeing her fall in love with Hunter and get her heart battered and bruised again and again was difficult, but when he finally sees reason and embraces their love, I knew they would be together forever.  We got to see many past characters all grown up and with families of their own, even getting  a glimpse of the future generations of these partially Fae individuals that may or may not find a way to travel to the future to find their mates.  I’m really hoping this wasn’t the final story in the series and we get to see some more sensual and outrageous pairings over the ages.  Keep the stories coming Barbara and I’ll keep spreading the world about your skills and awesomeness. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: A Gentleman in the Street

A Gentleman in the Street

by Alisha Rai


 Shameless. That’s what she was.
Billionaire businesswoman Akira Mori can get anything and anyone her heart desires. Anyone, that is, except for a certain aloof author who has been dominating her dreams for over a decade. Accustomed to Jacob Campbell’s stern disapproval, Akira has turned provocation into an art, using every trick in her arsenal to keep the man from guessing the depth of her filthy fantasies.
Shameless. That’s what she made him.
Since the moment the sexy, sultry socialite sidled up to him years ago, there hasn’t been a time when Jacob didn’t crave Akira. But as guardian to his younger siblings, responsibility has controlled his life. Confining his darkest desires to secret, stolen moments maintains his carefully disciplined world…but a cold bed is the price he pays.
A single touch is all it takes for their simmering need to explode. As secrets and fears are stripped away one by one, shame becomes a thing of the past. They find themselves becoming addicted to each other, in bed and out—a frightening prospect for a man just learning to live…and a woman who thinks she doesn’t know how to love.
Themes: erotica, ménage, bondage
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
A Gentleman in the Street indeed… that was one of the hottest stories I have read in a long, long time.  Not entirely surprising though, to be honest, as Alisha Rai is one of the hottest erotic writers I’ve had the pleasure to read. Whether she’s writing about sexy twin brothers capturing the heart of one reluctant woman or two individuals that have hidden their desire for one another for years, Rai manages to keep the heart of the love story, while still thrilling and exciting the readers with passion, excitement, and naughtiness.  I was thrilled to have the chance to read Akira and Jacob’s story and am looking forward to possible reading more about this family as Jacob also has two sexy younger brothers.  Any fans of the genre will find their tastes catered to with all the sensuality, a ménage or two and even some light bondage, but the core of the story remains with Akira and Jacob giving in to their desires and finding a way to find love through all the sexual escapades.
Jacob and Akira were both unique characters, each of them resisting their desires for one another for over a decade for very different reasons, but when the vulnerability of a death in the family leave Akira open, Jacob succumbs in a big way.  I love the way Jacob always puts those he loves above himself, even Akira, and always finds a way to get what he wants as well.  It was interesting to see him come out of his shell and embrace the sexuality he has been suppressing as he played daddy to his siblings. And of course seeing him fully accept Akira and her unconventional lifestyle, showed them both that he was the perfect match for her passions.  Akira was an enigma, wrapped up in a mystery, hidden behind a conundrum but I loved her nonetheless. She has had to erect so many barriers against the world and those that sought to tear her down that she just can’t pull them down to let Jacob in, but his determination to get under, over, or around them anyway he can finally sinks in and she finds a way to overcome her insecurities so she can have the man that has held her heart for years.
In the end, I LOVED this story and will probably reread it on dark nights when I need a little lift, replacing a pervious Rai novel as my go to (maybe :)).  Rai’s characters are always beautifully flawed and, when they come together, find ways to complement each other perfectly and battle those vulnerabilities together. Akira is a woman that has always had to hide behind a façade to keep others from bringing her down or dragging her down to their level.  But Jacob has begun to see through that façade and see the sweet and caring woman that has been hurt so many times, and she really has no defense against a determined and loving Jacob.  Jacob was one of those nice guys that has a hidden core of naughtiness and alpha strength; they soothe you into complacency then…BAM… they drag you into an irresistible heated passion and leave you ruined for any other man.  I have never read a Rai story I didn’t love and Gentleman in the Street is no exception, rising quickly to a favorite erotic romance that I will read repeatedly.  Another work of art Alisha… where could you possibly be taking us next? 

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: Slow Hand

Slow Hand (Hot Cowboy Nights #1)

by Victoria Vane


 In rural Montana...

Wade Knowlton is a hardworking lawyer who's torn between his small-town Montana law practice and a struggling family ranch. He's on the brink of exhaustion from trying to save everybody and everything, when gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office. She's a damsel in distress and the breath of fresh air he needs.
Even the lawyers wear boots...

Nicole Powell is a sassy Southern girl who has officially sworn off cowboys after a spate of bad seeds-until her father's death sends her to Montana and into the arms of a man who seems too good to be true. Her instincts tell her to high tail it out of Montana, but she can't resist a cowboy with a slow hand...
Themes: contemporary, cowboy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating:
A new author is always an interesting experience, whether you end up hating or loving their work, or something in between, having the chance to listen to a new voice and explore a new world is the best part of reading.  So when I got the chance to try Victoria Vane’s writing in her new Hot Cowboy Nights series I was thrilled.  I enjoyed Wade and Nicole’s story, even if I didn’t fall madly in love with it, and am looking forward to reading more by this author.  Vane’s characters are deep, interesting, and sometimes frustrating, but I found something to like about each of them, even if I had a few issues here and there.  The setting, of course, was beyond beautiful and played a big part in the story and the overall storyline was well written, with interesting little twists and ultimately a successful HEA.  I will be jumping to read the next book in the series in the hope that Dirk proves he’s not as big of an asshole as he seemed in this story.  Overall this author is one I will be keeping an eye on as I browse the romance section and one that I will continue to request for review copies. 

Wade has had a tough time of it in the past 5 or so years, with tragey hitting his family and stupid youthful decisions continuing to haunt him, but he remains a sweet and simple man with a serious sexy streak.  I loved Wade and wish I could find a man just like him here in the real world.  I even loved that he stood up for his desires and forced Nicole to deal with her shit instead of kowtowing to her and her insecurities.  And that brings me to Nicole and my serious dislike of her.  I understand she needed to have issues to work through to give her character room to grow, but I just did not like her for the majority of the book.  She was wish-washy, unable to make a decision that might differ from the way her life has always been, and unwilling to give up her perceived control of her life, even for the chance at a meaningful and loving relationship with a man like Wade.  She just seemed like one of those women that can’t see the forest for the trees in any relationship and lets past assholes color her perception of a truly good man, and I cannot abide those types of women.  Thankfully she finally got her stuff together and was able to earn the love and respect that Wade offered her and a future with him. 

In the end I liked Slow Hand very much, especially Wade and his family, but didn’t care much for a heroine that refused to embrace the opportunities that were just dropped into her lap for love and life.  The premise of the story itself is one that has been done for a long time, in a lot of different ways, but that portion of the book was actually surprisingly interesting, especially the little twists in their relationship.  The side characters weren’t well developed but we got just enough info to be intrigued for the future novels in the series.  The passion between the characters was written well, but some of the fire was lost for me because Nicole was so much in her head and worrying about past mistakes to appreciate the sexy as hell cowboy right in front of her.  Wade was an awesome charcter and I am looking forward to seeing where his future leads as the series progresses and I am thrilled that he was able to find his HEA.  Once I got over my issues with her and she grew up a bit, I liked Nicole and could see her being a decent match for Wade as she continued to embrace the world and changes around her and finally spread her wings.  I like Vane’s writing style and hopefully future heroines will live up to her heroes and earn her a permanent section in my shelves.  

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

Review: Beyond the Darkness

Beyond the Darkness (Darkness #3)

by Katie Reus


Now that she has her freedom, she’s not giving it up.
Dragon shifter Keelin Petronilla spent centuries in forced hibernation dreaming of one thing: freedom. Now she’s living life on her terms—she’s ditched her clan for an unruly wolf pack, she tends bar for a half-demon, and she’s loving it…until a powerful supernatural being targets her. She intends to handle the mysterious attacks on her own…without the help of dragon Alpha Bran Devlin. Sure, he’s sexy in that hot, scowling possessive way, but Keelin wants to live her own life in her own way.
Now that he’s found his mate, he’s not letting her go.
Former black ops agent Bran Devlin is a born dragon Alpha and leader of a fierce clan. Getting mated was never part of his plan—until a feisty dragon princess gets under his skin in a big way. The hell of it is, she doesn’t want a mate; she just wants to have a good time. He plays along, but when a dark and powerful being marks her for death, he’s determined to stay by her side in spite of her protests. Now that he’s found his mate, he means to keep her safe no matter what the cost…even if he has to risk it all.
Themes: dragons, shifters, demons, paranormal
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating:

Dragons, demons, and wolves oh my!  Returning to the unique and diverse world created by Katie Reus is always a pleasure and I look forward to each chance to meet a new group of individuals and see how they mesh with previous groups.  The series began with a sexy alpha wolf and his vampire mate and has taken off from there, leading us to this story of two very different Dragon shifters that have to find a way to overcome their personal issues to have a chance to be together. There are always lots of laughs, intense emotional issues, and of course, the external dangers stalking the couples, but this story is much more than just the sum of its parts.   The other stories in the series certainly play a role in this one, but if you haven’t read them don’t worry too much, you get filled in adequately and there is a loose connection between the characters.   Keelin and Bran are different in so many ways, but when they come together and the fires die down you are left with a deep and abiding love connection that will bring them through any drama they face. 
Keelin has escaped the strangling clutches of her overprotective family—at last—and is determined that nothing and no one is going to interfere with her newfound independence.  But there is no way she can deny the attraction and connection she feels to Bran, the sexy Alpha shifter that once cared for her after a brutal attack left her vulnerable.  Bran has bided his time, but he’s ready to claim his mate and sees no reason to let Keelin out of his sight again.  Keelin agrees to give an affair a chance but firmly refuses to have a mate, which of course just presents an even more appealing challenge for Bran.   When it became apparent that Keelin is in mortal danger, Bran becomes increasingly unwilling to allow her to leave his side, chafing at Keelin’s need for independence.  Can they find a balance between their needs and wants… before Keelin ends up dead—or worse?
 Keelin is one of those characters that I wish had more time to grow before she falls in love, because dealing with emotional growing pains along with falling in love, and being stalked by a serial killer is just a lot for any girl to deal with—even a dragon girl! While she is thousand of years old, she’s been in hibernation a long time and is still getting used to the 21st century, leaving her family home to travel to AL and work in a bar was a big step for her.  She’s slowly beginning to become the woman she needs to be, but her fears of being tied down get in the way of a chance at a great relationship with Bran, or they would I he allowed it! and e's obviously in need of a keeper in some ways, but her strength and her determination mean that she could stand on her own and still get her man if she allowed herself the chance.  I liked Keelin a lot and got several laughs from her antics.  When she was fighting for herself and her loved ones she truly shined and showed that independent doesn’t have to mean solitary, if you can find the right partner. 
Bran is a kick-ass, alpha dragon, commando… what better combo can one ask for in a man.  I loved Bran from the beginning even though there were some moments I could see his autocratic attitude making me angry.  His passion for Keelin and protecting his fellow dragons make him a dangerous man to cross but I can see how that would make him an even better friend or ally. Bran knew that Keelin was his mate, but his work and desire to give her space have kept him away from her, allowing her to heal and find her own feet again, but when he discovers she’s living away from the protection of her clan, working with many other males around her, there’s no way he’s going to allow that to continue.  He sets out to steal her heart and seal her to his side to make sure their mating happens, and soon, so he can settle down as his clan’s alpha with his mate at his side.  The danger that surrounds her drives him continuously crazy, but he won’t allow her to be hurt, even if he has to tie her down.  Bran was one of those characters I can see being just about any type of man—dragon, wolf, cat, human, vampire, or other—and still mesmerizing and enchanting any woman that he comes across. 
Bran and Keelin’s story was interesting not just for the way they love one another, but also for the fact they find a way to bring down some seriously bad dudes, bring her family around to accepting him, uncovering millennia old secrets and even meeting a goddess.  Keelin’s character has her ups and downs as she deals with her shifting feelings for Bran and the fears that ebb and flow in her as she approaches each new disaster and challenge.  Bran is the man and being a dragon too just makes him doubly sexy and awesome in my book.  He is also very protective of his friends, family, and species, taking on battles that really aren’t his to fight to ensure peace and safety for others.  The passion between Bran and Keelin is beyond intense every second of the story, even when they are nowhere near one another, simply thinking about each other leaves them both burning and the reader frustrated that you can’t be one of the characters to experience that heated intensity for yourself.  While I am certainly partial to wolves, the dragons in this series are interesting and the way they live is fascinating as well.  Being able to learn more about these different and intriguing characters within the world that Reus has built is one of the best parts of reading in general and reading her work specifically.  I am looking forward to the next story and very much hope that it is Bo and Nyx’s story, after all the little hints and out-right uncovering of secrets that happened in this last story.  Keep the magic coming Katie and I’ll keep you on my auto-purchase list.

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