Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: Shadow Fall (Tracers #9)

Shadow Fall (Tracers #9)

by Laura Griffin 

 Special Agent Tara Rushing arrives at a grisly murder scene and quickly discovers she’s got a serial killer on her hands. The killer is meticulous, making sure to wipe up even the smallest traces of evidence…but the Delphi Center experts are on the case.
The local sheriff has a suspect all picked out—ex-Marine and current security expert Liam Wolfe. Despite all her digging, Tara knows very little about Liam when she shows up at his sprawling Texas compound, which serves as headquarters for Wolfe Securities, and she’s surprised by her intense physical reaction to him.
As she and Liam grow closer, Tara finds herself depending on his skills and expertise to help her track a killer. But when another body turns up, Tara must decide if she can trust the man who’s quickly stealing her heart.
Themes:  Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
 The tracers have done it again.  These novels about amazing scientists and law enforcements individuals coming together to solve crimes and catch the sicko criminals that exist in this world are amazing and become more and more intense with each installment.  This novel revolves around a kick ass FBI Agent and the Spec Ops security expert that captures her attention.  This was a great novel of the procedures that lead law enforcement on wild goose chases and ultimately allow them to catch the bad guys.  It was great to see some of our favorite characters from previous novels as well as meeting some new guys.  I am really looking forward to seeing where Laura takes the series in the future.  If you haven’t read previous novels in the series you are missing out on a great series, but in the end this story stands alone in a big way and leads the readers on a merry chase to find the bad guy.  I will say that most romantic suspense is usually pretty easy for me to figure out long before the characters seem to, but as always Griffin manages to fool me right up until the truth comes out. 
FBI Agent Tara Rushing is sent to a small town in Texas when a high-profile former politico is murdered and the deck is stacked against her from the moment she steps into the case.  The biggest obstacle comes in the form of the sexy and irresistible security expert Liam Wolfe, the victim’s former bodyguard.  As the killer’s crimes grow, Tara has to decide who she can trust and whether what she feels for Liam is real or just a heightened response to the danger.  Liam on the other hand is determined to get Tara into his arms—and his bed—and none of the obstacles she puts between them can dissuade him from that desire.  Working together to find the killer could very well put them both into mortal danger, but the passion and emotion between them truly is strong enough to convince them to risk it all.
I enjoyed getting to know Tara a little more, even though I was a little upset that she felt she needed to pretend to be a tougher person just so others didn’t discount her in her work. She was obviously intelligent and beyond capable, but she always had to fight to get her opinion across and have the men in her group give her the respect she deserves.  While her instincts are definitely highly formed, she sometimes doubts herself just because her emotions play into those instincts.  The hardest lesson any woman can ever learn is that emotion combined with instinct is always stronger than just listening to your gut, because it is our emotions that truly allow us to formulate trustworthy opinions of those around us.   The way she really opens up with Liam, once he stops letting her hide from him, show her and the readers the true depth of her skill, natural ability, and empathy for others, which in the end is what allows her to solve the case and defeat the killer.  Liam on the other hand is an in your face and upfront kind of guy and when he meets Tara he knows just what he wants and isn’t afraid to go after it.  Being accused of murder doesn’t even seem to faze this guy, even when the one accusing him is the woman he’s lusting after.  Liam’s strength of character and honor make him a hero through and through, even when he’s being a bit arrogant and trying to tell Tara what to do.  All-in-all I love Liam and enjoyed getting to know him. 
Overall, Shadow Fall was an experience that I wouldn’t have missed for the world.  Griffin always manages to capture my interest and put my mind to work figuring out who the bad guy is, more than just enjoying the love between her H/h.  Liam and Tara were both interesting characters, each overcoming obstacles personally and professionally in order to find their place in the world.  Liam was a sweet but sometime arrogant badass that was willing to risk it all to keep Tara safe and in his life forever, even if she resisted him every step of the way.  Tara was a woman that I could see as a great role model for young women—strong, independent, brave, and gutsy.  I like seeing Tara find her footing and be able to stand up to and ultimately win against the local good ole boys who tried to trip her up.  The passion between Liam and Tara runs as a subtle undercurrent in each moment they are together and when they give into the heat, there is not denying these two have serious chemistry.  It was also interesting to see some previously loved characters and of course to meet some new ones (maybe they will be future heroes or heroines?) through both Tara and Liam.  I cannot wait to find out what’s coming next, but have no doubt it will be terrific as every other Tracers novel.

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review: Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane #9)

Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane #9)

by Elizabeth Hoyt

Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother's investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London's premier pleasure garden, Harte's Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can't be controlled.
Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn't have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden's larger-than-life owner, he's already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He's not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.
In spite of her lack of theatrical experience—and her fiery clashes with Asa—Eve is determined to turn Harte's Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There's no denying the smoldering fire between them—and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.
Themes: historical
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating:m
 Returning to historical London we find ourselves once again wrapped up in the lives of the family and friends of some of the most interesting people.  This series began with a fantastical tale of the woman that falls in love with a masked vigilante and has evolved, quite naturally, into this story of a shy and bruised young woman and the brash and larger-than-life man that steals her heart. If you haven’t been following this series, you might miss some of the undertones and relationships between Asa and his family, but overall this story stands on its own as a fabulously sensual and exciting story.  The story begins shortly after Dearest Rogue, where Asa’s best friend and colleague found the love of his life in one of Asa’s employees. Asa is working very hard to get his pleasure garden and theater back to working capability after a devastating fire, but the work is expensive and complicated by strange obstacles that keep popping up.  Eve is the woman that is currently holding the purse strings on Asa’s project so he is determined to get her to see that the money she is supplying, through her brother’s fortune, is necessary.  The more he spends time with her, though, the more Asa begins to find Eve to be the most enticing and exciting woman he’s been around in ages.  Slowly pulling her out of her shell has become his real goal, but when someone threatens not just the finishing of his garden, but the life of the woman he loves, will Asa be able to save her?  And if he does, will he be able to be the man she loves instead of just the workaholic obsessed with proving his worth through his business acumen?
I loved this story because it has some many different themes that it touches on and you never know what is around the next corner for these two lovers.  While the passion between them was evident in every moment, their ability to fully see one another and understand just what the other needs it what makes them a truly matched pair. Asa is an arrogant and slightly annoying man on the surface, but if you are able to look past that to the man underneath you can see that he is still a little boy trying to find his place in the world and prove his worth to his father.   Once he understands that the love of his life is really the only one he needs to prove himself to, he becomes a truly terrific hero and can let go of his past to embrace his future with that love.  Eve has had some real traumas in her past and they have bruised her badly, but more and more she knows that she wasn’t broken, with Asa’s help.  He is able to show her that she can be independent and be a whole woman again; even strong enough to demand what she needs from her lover, even if she loses him because of it.  If you are a fan of stories where a woman is able to find herself even as she falls in love and where a man can prove his true worth to the woman he loves just by being himself, I guarantee you will love this one.  Honestly the entire series is full of these awesome themes and very few authors can get these points across without seeming to be on a soapbox.  Elegantly written, sensuality explodes from both of these characters and Elizabeth strikes again with a truly masterful tale of loss, overcoming the past, and love conquering all.  I am dying to know whose story is next, though I have my suspicions and if I’m right it will be explosive. 

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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

ARC Review: Hot Protector (Hostile Operations Team #10)

Hot Protector (Hostile Operations Team #10)

by Lynn Raye Harris 


 Sometimes the forbidden is impossible to resist…
Chase “Fiddler” Daniels finds himself on the run with Sophie Nash—the step-sister he loves to hate. Protecting Sophie from a Russian mobster shouldn’t be too hard. Protecting himself from Sophie’s charm? Somehow, that’s a whole lot harder…
Themes: Contemporary, paramilitary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
 Once again Ms. Harris pushed the limits of imagination and societal acceptance in her new tale about two individuals that most would say should never be together but are inseparable once their hearts come together.  I have been a fan of the HOT team since the beginning and look forward to each story more and more as we learn about these amazing men and women.  In this newest installment Ms Harris touches on societal taboos, dangerous bad decisions, and the familial problems that many people are dealing with day to day.  If you haven’t read the previous stories in this series you will be missing out on a lot of the group relationships and subtext, but overall you get enough back-story that you won’t find yourself feeling lost.  I recommend this series often and say to all that find sexy alpha military guys hot that this series is worth every second it will take you to get caught up with the rest of us HOT fans.  I cannot wait to see who gets a story next, though I have my suspicions and can’t wait to see what happens next. 
Chase “Fiddler” Daniels never imagines that when he opens his door to a late night visitor that his world would be turned completely upside down for all time.  His estranged stepsister has arrived on his doorstep desperate for help and the attraction between them is insanely hot and undeniable.  Sophie hasn’t seen Chase in more than a decade, never really knowing the stepbrother that has been neglected by his father most of his life, but she knows enough that she can trust him to help her get out of the deep trouble she finds herself in.  Trapped together by dangerous circumstances, Chase and Sophie soon find that the pull between them is more than irresistible and giving in to that desire could leave them both facing a deadly truth.   But in the end the only important thing to either of them is keeping the other safe and  bringing  down a disgusting madman. 
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, even though I was suspicious in the beginning.  Being from a mixed family I usually don’t ever enjoy these types of romances that cross that line, but the fact is that they are really only related on paper and even that is debatable since Chase doesn’t acknowledge his biological father.  So once I got over that personal issue, I found that Chase and Sophie were obviously made for each other.  Chase was a bit of an ass through a good bit of the story, more often than not acting exasperated and begrudging with his help, but thankfully once his heart is engaged he puts all that stupid macho crap behind him.  He is definitely a skilled operator and seeing him work was interesting even though he made a few mistakes in his rush to get things done.  Sophie on the other hand was frustrating; she comes to Chase for help, but then hides details from him, placing both their lives in danger and ultimately making their task harder.  Finding the time to fall in love might seem odd with all the action happening, but once again Ms. Harris shows us that what makes a romance is that people and even operators can find their match at the most inopportune times.  The passion between Sophie and Chase was crazy hot and the way they find a way to share their hearts despite all their issues was amazing.  Another great addition to a series that continues to surprise me more and more with each story.  Cannot wait to find out which badass falls under love’s bullet next.

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Kill Without Mercy (ARES Security #1)

Kill Without Mercy (ARES Security #1)

by Alexandra Ivy

 From the hellhole of a Taliban prison to sweet freedom, five brave military heroes have made it home—and they’re ready to take on the civilian missions no one else can. Individually they’re intimidating. Together they’re invincible. They’re the men of ARES Security.
Rafe Vargas is only in Newton, Iowa, to clear out his late grandfather’s small house. As the covert ops specialist for ARES Security, he's eager to get back to his new life in Texas. But when he crosses paths with Annie White, a haunted beauty with skeletons in her closet, he can't just walk away—not when she’s clearly in danger…
There’s a mysterious serial killer on the loose with a link to Annie’s dark past. And the closer he gets, the deeper Rafe’s instinct to protect kicks in. But even with his considerable skill, Annie’s courage, and his ARES buddies behind him, the slaying won’t stop. Now it’s only a matter of time before Annie’s next—unless they can unravel a history of deadly lies that won’t be buried.
Themes: Contemporary, Paramilitary
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
Alexandra Ivy, one of the Queen’s of paranormal romance, kicks off a new and exciting series revolving around an amazing group of men that have survived the most inhumane and terrifying experience and come away a strong group of heroes out to save each other and those that cross their paths.  Though this series is mostly vanilla in terms of Ivy’s typical paranormal characters, the heroine Annie has a special “gift” that keeps the story from being too mainstream.  This series jumps right into the lives of the five men that have come together, brothers in arms, to begin a new security company and when one of their own finds himself in over his head the other four rush to his side to help keep him and his new lady safe.  If you’ve never read Alexandra’s work this is a good place to start as her imagination and wit are shown in full glory along with her ability to bring together couples that shouldn’t work but always seem to find their HEA and true love together.  I am really looking forward to the rest of the books in this series and learning more about each of these extremely interesting men that together make such a kick ass team.
Rafe has never wanted to return to his father’s hometown, but once his grandfather dies, there’s no one left to handle the estate except him.  He travels from Texas to Iowa determined to get his chore done and return to the newly anticipated business he and his friends are opening, but when he runs across Annie he is immediately pulled to her.  Annie has returned to her hometown, the place of her nightmares, pulled by the visions that have begun haunting her again.  She is determined to understand why her life was torn apart a decade earlier, but she soon finds herself the target of a madman and swept up in a whole new spree of murders.  Rafe and Annie keep running into each other and soon there is no way they can resist one another, but Annie’s trust will be hard won and only by helping her solve these crimes can he keep her safe and find a way into her heart and life.  But can they work together to thwart the killer before they become his next victims?
Rafe is the typical macho commando on the surface, but under all that swagger and danger is a truly sweet guy and Annie seems to pull out his gentleness at every turn.  Rafe’s past is a lot darker than many people realize, but he always had the love of his immediate family to keep him level and now his four brothers in arms are his immediate family, so when he finds himself in the path of a serial killer he knows he can count of them to keep him and Annie safe.  He is such a sweet guy, doing everything he can to reassure Annie and show her that not all men are untrustworthy, that some are worth the trouble to love.  As he works to keep them both safe and make her love him, we can see that he himself is a man that loves deeply and forever.  While in the beginning his interest in Annie was purely animal attraction, he quickly sees that she’s in danger of losing herself and her mind and finds a way to use his love to save her and teach her to fight for her own safety and beliefs.  Annie likewise was a good character to get to know.  In the beginning she is a bit of a scared mouse, but she slowly turns into a tigress the more time she spends with Rafe and his team.  She has returned to her past in hopes of understanding it and why she is again having visions, but when faced with recognition she tries to run.  Thankfully she has a backbone and when she discovers that others' lives might be on the line she lets go of her own fears so she can confront the truth of her ability.  I loved how she was able to take hit after hit and, with only small meltdowns, keep her cool and find a way to move forward to save those in danger.  Seeing her fall in love and butt heads with Rafe was beyond entertaining because she shows little glimpses of a sense of humor and ability to take the hits as they come and just keep going.

All in all I would say this is an amazing beginning to a new series by one of my favorite authors, a series I will be on the edge of my seat waiting to read.  Rafe and Annie’s story was a good place to start because we get to meet each of them and learn their strengths as well as their weaknesses.  Each of these guys definitely has their own personalities and quirks to bring to the team and in the end those differences are what make them work together so well as a team.  Rafe is a tough guy with a heart of gold and I cannot wait to see more of him as he and Annie find their lives entwined now that they are together.  It was amazing to get to see him in action as he tries to solve the mysteries revolving around his woman and the danger that she is in, knowing all the while that his fears of losing her are keeping him from being his best.  It will also be interesting to see how much Annie changes even more now that her past is finally laid to rest and she can have a long and happy life with Rafe.  I enjoyed getting to see her work through her fears and find a way to confront the truth of her past, family, and future.  Rafe and Annie’s passion burns hot from the second they lay eyes on one another and is a constant undercurrent in their story whether they are fighting each other or fighting for their lives.  Another great series to keep readers entertained and keep my bookshelves stocked.  I am dying to see where Ms. Ivy takes these guys as they build their business, making a name for themselves and ARES security really takes off.  Each of these guys promises to have an interesting story and whatever lucky woman wins their hearts will be just as intriguing, I have no doubt.  A++ Alexandra! 

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mini-Review: Feel the Burn (Dragon Kin #8)

Feel the Burn (Dragon Kin #8)

by G.A. Aiken


 War makes strange bedfellows.

I, Gaius Domitus, one-eyed rebel dragon king of the Provinces, know that better than most, since I have to fight off half my ungrateful family on a regular basis to keep law and order here in my lands. But I never expected to have to consort with a barbarian human woman.

Kachka is beautiful, if you like them fierce—and of course I do. But she keeps complaining about how spoiled and decadent I am, and how a feared Daughter of the Steppes has no time for foolish dragons. I think she likes my eye patch, though. It is quite dashing. With death always at our tails, we take our passion like we take our allies. As they say, love the barbarian you’re with…
Themes: Dragons, shifters, witches, paranormal
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
 Ok so for those of you that aren’t already a fan of the strangely compelling smartass-ness that is G.A. Aiken then I can tell you in advance this story might not be for you.  Being a big fan of sarcastic, slightly crazy, and just a little out there characters I have always been a fan of Ms. Aiken (or Laurenston depending on the series), and I can guarantee that if you like laughing your butt off at the antics of characters that border the psychotic then you too will become a fan.  The stories themselves are definitely not your traditional romances, though they always end with the couple in love and committed, but the routes each take is sometimes perilous usually unusual, and most assuredly not by any stretch something that any of us would ever experience personally.  That being said Kachka and Gaius have an even more unlikely route to love than previous couples.  They come together to assuage simple lust, but then while they are apart for the next months they find themselves thinking about each other, almost to the point of obsession.  When their paths and missions cross again, Kachka and Gaius are faced with the choice of ignoring that passion or giving in to the strange attraction.  Gaius is an interesting guy, a dragon shifting king that has been too busy kicking ass and taking names to really even take his throne now that he has won it back.  I’ve liked him since his first appearance and was wondering who would steal his dragon heart.  He is sexy to the extreme, but unlike the other dragon males he is sweet, charming and uses his brain as well as his battle skills to win his “lady”.  And I use “lady" in the loosest sense of the term.  Kachka is a warrior through and through, raised to kick ass and not only SHOW no weakness, but to actually have none if she intends to survive.  She has given up her past in order to save her sister's life and owes Gaius for helping her sister with the changes in her life, but she doesn’t really know how to handle the emotions Gaius causes.  Willing to bed him, since why not after all, she never imagined he would plague her mind for months after and when she has another chance to have him she grabs it with both hands.  I liked Kachka even if she was a crazy-ass bitch in every way possible and her crazy was just the kind I’d like to have as my friend.  So overall this story was a lot of crazy and a lot of sarcasm that eventually led to some scary battles and the strangest HEA and love you might ever read about.   Wondering where the series will go next, as the stories are becoming less about each couple than about the overall ARC and the future of these kingdoms.  Can’t wait to see the next generation, now all grown up, ready to kick some ass and take over the world!  

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

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Here at Romance Witch Reviews we just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and a blessing for all, that 2016 brings great things to you and yours. 

Join me this coming year for more reviews of great Romance Novels and hopefully even some more author discussion and interviews. 

“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May the Goddess hold you in the palm of her hand”

― Irish Blessings (Pagan version) 

Blessed Be,
The Romance Witch