Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: Her Wild Hero (X-Ops #3)

Her Wild Hero (X-Ops #3)

by Paige Tyler 

Name: Kendra Carlsen
Rank: Trainer, Dept. of Covert Ops
Objective: Get out of the office and into the field

Name: Declan MacBride
Rank: Munitions Expert, Dept. of Covert Ops
Status: Bear Shifter
Objective: Protect Kendra at all costs

The steamy Costa Rican jungle brings out the bear in Declan MacBride when he and new operative Kendra Carlsen are ambushed. In the midst of relying on each other to survive, and fighting his explosive attraction to Kendra, this shifter is about to lose control...
Themes: shifters, paranormal
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Paige Tyler’s X-Ops series continues with the newest story of a woman that has finally gotten her wish to go into the field as a true agent and the sexy bear-shifter that is charged with keeping her safe and alive.   If you’ve been following the series to this point you will recall that Kendra has been begging to be allowed to go into the field for a long time, even going behind her boss’s back on unsanctioned missions to prove to herself that she can handle anything. When she is finally given the chance to go on a real mission, even one as trivial as a research/recon mission, she jumps at the chance, even if she will be forced into close confines with Declan.  Declan has been in lust with Kendra since he first met her, but her obvious disregard for him and obsession with another agent has left him angry and grumpy whenever they are in the same room.  But when the mission goes entirely wrong leaving Kendra and Declan with only each other to rely on against a large number of deadly enemies it fast becomes obvious that they are both hiding the true depth of their feelings.
I really enjoyed getting to know more about Kendra and of course seeing the sexy Declan in action was beyond awesome.  Kendra is the kind of woman that is determined that nothing will get in her way, even dangerous enemies and a man that she has lusted after a long time.  Even though Declan keeps pushing her away Kendra knows there is something between them so she works hard to bring him around, finally getting him to admit his feelings.  I think Kendra was a true heroine, willing to sacrifice herself for others, especially the man she loves.  Declan too was an intense and sensual characters with a deep core of honor and the ability to make just about anyone of the female persuasion swoon.  He is big and strong but, under all that, totally a sweetie and willing to give and give for those he cares about.  However anyone that threatens those he loves is another story entirely and trust me when I say that you have never seen a real killing machine until you’ve seen an 8 foot tall bear shifter in full rampage to protect the woman he loves. 
Overall this story was very intense and interesting as these two navigated their way through the dense South American jungle running from a dangerous pack of enemies.  There were some lighter moments as they found a way through all that danger to find moments of sweetness and passion, but there were also moments of deadly fear and sadness.  Declan was a good guy and I enjoyed learning more about him, he is truly a hero, but there were also a few moments where I wanted to kick him in the ass for something stupid he said or did, but I guess that little flaw is forgivable in the grand scheme of his character.  Kendra too had a few moments where she drove me crazy, but seeing her standup to her fears and find a way to keep herself AND Declan safe shows that even through fear a person can find their true inner heroism.  The passion between these two, whether in the form of fighting or making love was palpable in every scene and even when they were resisting one another you could tell there was no way that would last very long.  I find myself enjoying this series more and more and I look forward to whatever comes next for these X-Ops agents and the shifters they are paired with. 

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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

ARC Review: The Princess Wore Plaid (The Oxenburg Princes #2.5)

The Princess Wore Plaid (The Oxenburg Princes #2.5)

by Karen Hawkins 

A princess once bejeweled but now tattered…
Royal princess Tatiana Romanovin is the beautiful, wealthy, and spoiled favorite of the King of Oxenburg. On her way to her cousin’s wedding in the Scottish highlands, she and her entourage are held up by a gang of ruffians. Frightened, her servants flee, and Tatiana soon finds herself alone in an inn with no servants, no funds, and no proof of her identity. Destitute, she accepts the offer from a sympathetic (but unbelieving) innkeeper to work for her room and board while she waits for an answer to the missive she’s sent to her cousin Prince Nikolai. With no other recourse, Tatiana scrubs floors and dirty linens, waiting for her prince to come…
A proud lord once lost and now found…
After a brutal, bloody battle with the French Navy left Lord Buchan limping and surly, abandoned by his betrothed because of his twisted leg, his lordship hides away at his manor house in the countryside. He leaves only once a week to eat at the local inn, drawn by the expert cooking of the innkeeper’s wife. One day, Buchan arrives to find that the innkeeper has a new servant, a beautiful scullery maid with a queenly air, and flashing green eyes that leave him breathless and increasingly aware of his lonely existence…
Love may find them yet…
The challenge of winning his way into Tatiana’s heavily protected heart stirs Buchan back to life…but can he and his twisted leg—and broken heart—win a proud princess whose only goal is to leave Scotland and return to the court where she’s the crowning jewel?
Themes: historical
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
The wait for the next story of the Oxenburg princes has been suspended temporarily with this lovely novella about their cousin Princess Tatiana, who finds herself stranded in Scotland after a carriage accident and wondering if she will ever find her way home.  For fans of this author and this series, Tatiana’s story has just the right amount of expected unexpectedness and the great sassy and sweet characters we all love.  The previous novels in this series have revolved around the princes of this small fictional eastern European country and the Scottish ladies that steal their hearts, but in an interesting twist we have a Scottish gent stealing his Princess’s heart.  Tatiana is stuck in the small town where she wandered after a carriage crash left her with temporary amnesia and no way to reach her family either in Scotland or back home.  Luckily a couple that runs the local inn offers her room and board in exchange for her serving as a maid.  Though she's clueless at first, she begins to appreciate the simple life and soon finds herself learning and appreciating all the skills and good things she once took for granted.  And then in walks the local landowner—Lord Buchan—who steals her heart in an instant, even as he refuses to believe her about her true identity.  Buchan has become a recluse and a bit of a grumpy brute since an accident left him disabled, but when he meets the fiery and sensual Tatiana he knows there is something different about her.  Soon his obsession and her desire to get to know him lead them down a dangerous path, but one they are both willing to walk if they can be together in the end.  When Buchan begins to believe Tatiana is who she says, he knows he cannot keep her, as much as he wants to, and he has to let her go.  But when he needs her most Tatiana refuses to be pushed away.  In the end Tatiana shows how truly strong a woman she is and finds a way to show this man that love is the best medicine for the pain in his life and only she can give him that.  I loved both of these characters and even though I doubt we will see them again in future novels, their story was a refreshing and sweet way to hold me over until the final story in the series.  Cannot wait to see who steals crown prince Nik’s heart in the finale.  Another great story and series, set in one of my favorite places on earth, and filled with characters that grab and keep my interest from beginning to end. 

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ARC Review: Better with You (Outback Skies #4)

Better with You (Outback Skies #4)

by Lexxie Couper 

Charlie Baynard is an average Outback cop. Protecting the people in his small town and flying through the Outback skies in his police chopper suits him just fine. But there s a side to him that no one knows about. Like the fact he used to be one of the Australian government s best assets, and his name isn t really Charlie.
A dangerous past conditioned Charlie to be afraid of nothing and no one. Except for the woman who knows "exactly" who he really is. His wife. And if the reports that she s headed for Wallaby Ridge are true, he s got two choices arrest her or kill her. Before she kills him.
Dani De Vries never questioned orders and was paid to do things that put her on a lot of most-wanted lists. Then Charlie entered her life and things shifted. Now Dani is on the run, hunted by dangerous people. But not as dangerous as the man she never meant to fall in love with her husband.
If only she can find him in time. And convince him not to put a bullet between her eyes.
Themes: Erotica
Rating: 3.25 stars
Heat Rating:  
 Ok let’s be honest, sometimes you just need a short and somewhat raunchy love story to give you a break from a lot of the emotionally heavy and tragic romance novels on the market these days.  And this story will give you just that.  Charlie has been a favorite character of mine throughout this entire series and it was nice to see him in action and finding his HEA.   His relationship with the heroine has certainly been an interesting one and seeing them finally admit their love—after almost killing each other—was beyond wonderful.  Dani was an odd duck to be sure, but in the end I liked her loyalty and willingness to do just about anything for her man.  That being said, the plot of this story was good, but the best part was the intense and sensual love scenes between these two.  Just enough emotion thrown in to keep it from being too far the other way, but overall a sexy and passionate novella about two characters that have earned the chance for a nice normal life.  If you are a fun of Lexxie Couper you will not be disappointed and we also get to see some of the previous heroes and learn a few choice bits about them.  All in all another great addition to my shelves and one I can see myself reading again in the future. 

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

Friday, February 12, 2016

ARC Review: Barefoot with a Bad Boy (Barefoot Bay Undercover #3)

Barefoot with a Bad Boy (Barefoot Bay Undercover #3)

by Roxanne St. Claire


A man who trusts no one is forced to believe the unbelievable...
For years, former spy Gabriel Rossi has been secretly searching for CIA linguist Isadora Winter, a woman he loved and lost long ago. But recently, he learned of her untimely death in an accident...and death of her son named Gabe. Angry, hurt, and uncertain of his next move, Gabe is stunned when a woman he's never met approaches him on the beach and claims to be Isadora. She doesn't look, act, or talk like his beloved Isa, but she knows things about their past that only a lover could know, and she assures him that his son is alive as well. As much as he wants to believe her and knows that in the spy world, anything is possible, doubts and distrust plague him. Still, he sees glimmers of the woman he once knew shine through and she begins to melt his hardened heart.
A woman who is tortured by emotions must endure the pain of love...
Lila Wickham has been working deep undercover for so long that sometimes she's forgotten who she really is. Now that her assignment is over and the surgeries she endured left her utterly changed, she is determined to fix the broken life she left behind and assure that her little boy is safe. With lingering threats from an unknown source and blinding headaches that torment her whenever she feels deep emotion, she seeks Gabe Rossi for help and protection. But instead of setting her up with a new undercover identity, he insists on luring her nemesis to Barefoot Bay so he can end the threat to Lila and her son once and for all.
Can they survive the worst betrayal of all?
Even if they succeed in drawing out the killer who has Lila in his sights, a much more serious threat hovers over them...a treacherous, deadly truth that could not only destroy their love but end their lives as well.
Themes: contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
The story we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. For long-time fans of Ms. St. Claire’s romance suspense novels you know who Gabe Rossi is and you have been dying to see him find his match for years, which is a category I can say I fall into whole-heartedly.  Gabe’s story is one that has been building for the last three novels in real intensity, setting up the circumstances of the book and even offering us an idea of exactly what we could expect.  Roxanne has a unique ability to make her readers salivate for her characters and come to see her world as the escape from our own often boring and mundane one.  Barefoot Bay is an idyllic setting and the people that call it home are all exciting, intense, and quirky in turns, but Gabe and his immediate circle are also intense, secretive and full of surprises.  If you are just coming into this series, I promise you will enjoy the story with its twists and turns and intrigue, but sorry to say nowhere near as much as we fans enjoy seeing Gabe meet his match and fall in love again.  Another masterpiece for Roxanne’s Barefoot Series and a great addition to the stories of the Rossi/Angelino clan. This story picks up immediately where the last story did, actually with a bit of overlap of the epilogue from the previous story, and Gabe is confronted with a blast from the past that will bring his world crashing down around his ear once again.  And once things really get interesting the story never releases its clutches in your heart and soul.
Gabe’s story is one that is heartbreaking and tragic, but the greatest trait of our hero is that even as his world crumbles around him, he is determined to keep others from dealing with the same pain.  He has dedicated his life to keeping his country and his family safe and when faced with the ultimate loss he remains steadfast in his desire to keep others safe.  Gabe is one of those heroes that stays in the back of your brain, even after only briefly meeting him in previous stories, and begs for you to learn all you can about him.  His strength and obvious love and devotion to his family makes him sweet, while his skills and general badass attitude shows that even macho alpha guys can be the perfect man when they come with an understanding side as well. Along with Gabe of course comes his amazing and quirky family and his fabulous “Uncle” Nino.  But there were a few times, I must admit, that his biggest character flaw—his lack of trust in ANYONE—is more of a hindrance for him than anything.  It turns him into an ass and almost costs both him and his woman their lives.  Luckily he learns the lesson we all must just in time; everyone has to have someone they can trust and rely on as backup. In the end it was my greatest joy to see Gabe find his HEA and build a new family for himself and finally have a chance to lose some of that distrust and anger at the world.
Lila/Isadora was an enigma more often than not as she tried to find a way to prove her identity and ultimately her love to Gabe and keep everyone she loved safe.  She has made some regrettable decisions in her past, ones that cost her the love of her life and almost cost her own life, but she has given up her life as a spy so she can protect her son and give him the one thing he’s never had—his father.  Lila underwent a lot of changes so she could take a job that she truly believed in initially, but has come to realize wasn’t the best choice in the end.  She has her son in her life, but whenever she thinks about how much she loves him the pain she feels is unbearable, so her best idea for his future is to bring him to his father who can truly love him the way he deserves.  As she and Gabe become reacquainted and investigate the true reason for her pain, they begin to fall back into love, though both resist.  I liked Lila a lot, but I felt a few times that she was not acting correctly.  Personally if I had her issues I would see every doctor in the world to figure out the problem, regardless of who someone tells me I can or cannot see. Defying an order for the safety of my child and myself is a non-issue, there’s just no way I wouldn’t  have solved that problem long before she did.  Once she finally got over that hurdle and began to stand up for herself I liked her much more.  She showed us the kickass woman that is the perfect match for and the woman that Gabe fell in love with so long ago.
True to its name, Barefoot with a Bad Boy, takes readers on a journey through the past and present of a real bad boy with a heart of gold as his life changes forever with the return of his woman to Barefoot Bay.  The danger and intrigue is interesting enough to make the story truly suspenseful, even though I figured out Lila’s issue long before either of them did, I never saw the true villain coming until they arrived on Gabe’s doorstep. True to all the greatness of Gabe, that man proves again and again that he really is almost the perfect man.  Once he drops his barriers and allows himself to trust in love and his woman, he becomes the loving man he always showed us glimpses of, proving that only by opening ourselves up to pain can we truly fall in love.  Lila/Isadora was a woman that has tried her best to make decisions in life to the benefit of all, but has hit a few bumps along the way.  Once she returns to the man she loves and begins to unravel the mess her life has become, she shows us glimpses of the fiery and spirited woman that once held Gabe’s heart.  The passion between these two is undeniable, even as Gabe fights his feelings for this woman that is so different from his heart’s desire.  I was thrilled to see that Gabe was able to bring everyone their HEA and find his own.  I cannot wait to see where this series goes next but can honestly say it will be a challenge for Roxanne to beat Barefoot with a Bad Boy, but I look forward to seeing her try.

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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mini-Review: Dark Alpha's Embrace (Reaper #2)

Dark Alpha's Embrace (Reaper #2)

by Donna Grant 

 There's no escaping a Reaper. I'm an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only
answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I'm coming for you...
I'm a warrior. My unbreakable determination, my backbone of steel define me. As a Reaper who does Death's bidding, weakness is a word I don't understand. Until a stunning librarian stirs emotions deep within me I've never felt before. Her soft curves blunt the sharp edges of my soul, crushing my defenses - yet make me stronger. But underneath those wide eyes and fierce femininity, she has a weapon, one she won't hesitate to use. And when the Dark begin their deadly descent, we'll need each other's love and protection...or risk fracturing apart.
Themes: Paranormal, Fae
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
 The reapers are at it again and the battle for the safety of all humans and half-fae rages on.  I was so thrilled to have another spin-off series to enjoy by Donna Grant and the Reapers series is one that fulfills all my desires for a short but intensely wonderful read.  This second installment picks up right where the first one ends, with Kyran and River clashing and then finding love.  River is the protector of a treasury of knowledge that her family has been entrusted to protect and pass on for generations; knowledge that Kyran and the other Reapers require to find a way to defeat their enemies.  But Kyran never imagined that when he found the library they needed, he’d find himself face to face with his future in the form of a sexy and deadly librarian.  River is determined that the books she’s worked so hard to reacquire not be taken, but Kyran convinces her that she needs to team up with the Reapers to keep the world safe for her kind.  I loved Kyran’s character, the perfect example of the bad-boy gone good.  His life as a Dark Fae was one of turmoil and sadness and finally a deadly betrayal, but he’s found a way to atone for all his mistakes serving Death and working alongside the others to keep the world safe from Fae that have crossed the line.  River was also a great heroine.  She has been hiding from the fae all her life while trying to preserve her family legacy, but Kyran brings out her passionate side and teaches her that she is more than simply a librarian; she is the other half of his soul. I am really looking forward to the next story in this series and cannot wait to watch each of these sexy Reapers fall in love with the woman of their dreams.  And of course we all wonder if Death and her Captain will ever be able to be together.  Another hit series by one of the greatest paranormal romance writers around, keep ‘em coming Donna.

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