Sunday, July 16, 2017

ARC Review: Leader of the Pack (The Dogfather #3)

Leader of the Pack (The Dogfather #3)

by Roxanne St. Claire

Blurb:
Very few things ruffle K-9 trainer Liam Kilcannon. Stoic and steady, he has the patience and skill to

transform a harmless puppy into a highly protective schutzhund, and the quiet strength to lead his five younger siblings through the storms of life. A former Marine who doesn’t waste words or squander emotions, Liam is also a man who very much wanted to spend his life with one special woman by his side. He found her… and lost her. And Liam won’t ever let himself slide down the Andi Rivers Slippery Slope to Misery again. But when his father tells him Andi’s house has been broken into, he doesn’t hesitate to offer her his beloved protection dog, a decision that will put them in close and constant contact.
Architect and single mom Andi Rivers knows nothing in life is certain, having first-hand experience with unexpected changes and tragedies that upended her world. Determined to protect her deeply shy little boy from another heartache, she’s vowed to stay single and unattached no matter how long and lonely her nights might be. Hesitant to take Liam’s dog at first, she soon changes her mind when an estranged relative launches a campaign to take custody of little Christian. A dog won’t be enough…Andi needs a family to protect her son. When the Kilcannon clan moves into action, the solution they offer is drastic but perfect. Liam and Jag are there to protect Andi’s home and child…but what will protect their hearts from the risk of falling in love – and failing – one last time?
Themes:  Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
The Dogfather has managed to bring another pup home to roost with his mate, and Daniel Kilcannon is not the type of guy to quit while he’s ahead. This series is one that holds a special place in my heart seeing as I’m all about the love of a good dog and the more I get to know this amazing family the more and more I wish the family truly existed out there in the world.  Roxanne’s unique ability to bring you fully into the lives of her characters and make you feel like you are right there living their lives with them, is even more pronounced in this series, which revolves around men and women that are down to earth and realistic, where her other series were more unrealistic as very few of us can relate to people that are special operators or first rate bodyguards. The previous two stories in this series were filled with their own troubles and issues to overcome in their relationship, But Andi and Liam truly had the world against them and I wondered if they would overcome all their challenges in order to find peace and love together. But as always Rocki finds a way and these two were able to come together and make a family when they both so badly needed to find that level of connection and love together.
Andi and Liam has a story that goes back many years, but we sadly don’t get to see that piece of their past except through their memories and conversations. Andi is in need of serious assistance and Liam and his family are there to rescue her and save the day for her little two person family.  Liam is reluctant to use the plan that his family seems to be fully behind but he will do anything for the only woman he ever loved or could love.  So while Liam is more than willing to do anything for her, he knows he has to keep a distance between them or she will break his heart into a million pieces...Again. Liam is willing to do anything to keep Andi and her little boy safe, including bringing his amazing dog Jag into their home to protect and love them as he does.  Andi will take any help she can to keep her little boy safe and with her, even follow the scary plan that the Kilcannons have put forth, but she is still determined to keep herself from falling for and depending on Liam.  But when the danger to her family escalates she turned to the man that has grabbed her heart in order to make sure that they all make it out safely and can find a way to their happily ever after. 
I loved this story of two people that have had serious ups and downs in their relationship including a two year separation right when their relationship was starting to truly blossom.  Liam is the kind of strong and staid man that would be the perfect man to have as a husband, but he would also be the kind of lover that takes over your heart and soul. I was sad to see the troubles Liam had to face and the trauma to his heart every time Andi pushed him away or put space between them, even as I understood her fears.  The best thing that Liam offers to Andi is the stability that has been sadly lacking in her life for the last seven or so years.  But the fear that Andi has allowed to color her choices in her relationship status and the way she treats Liam, and their relationship.  I was sad for Andi and understand the fears she carries, but I wished she could see the great guy that Liam was and how much she was tearing his heart out each time she kicked him away.  I was glad to see her finally open up her heart again, but in my opinion it took her way to long to see what was right in front of her.  I did enjoy seeing her interacting with her little man and Liam’s family, and I look forward to seeing them sharing their HEA in the coming novels in the series.
While Liam is definitely the leader of his little pack, even as his family and grandmother are still in charge, and seeing the heartbreak he is dealing with hurts his family enough that they banded together to get him what he needs to be happy in his life makes for a truly loving relationship.  Liam is a sweet, loving, and sexy guy with a heart as big as his family and the strength to lead his little world, whether that means dogs, little boys, and a woman that needs him whether she’s knows it or not. Andi is a woman that has been trying to keep from drowning as she ushers her shy and sweet little boy into the world, but she doesn’t see that adding Liam to that equation is the one piece needed to keep them moving forward.  I loved seeing these two come together, even though their sad moments brought tears to my eyes and made me wonder why Andi doesn’t understand that the best way to make her son happy is to truly be happy herself.  When Andi lets Liam into her life, and her son’s, the three of them can truly become a family and add to the Kilcannon clan and can find their forever happiness in one another. I might not fully understand how a mother’s love can drive a woman to make the types of decisions Andi did, I can understand how a woman might let her fear and past hurts drive her to make a choice that protects her heart. I definitely look forward to the rest of this series and seeing more of the Kilcannon clan as each of the other children finds their mates and Rocki sends them the challenges these brothers have faced. Another adventure in the lives and hearts of a couple that have to work hard to find their HEA and the family that circles them with love even as they have fight for each other.

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

P.s. as always in this series the love shared with the dogs by this family makes the family and the story all the more lovable to me.  I am dying to see what other dogs this family brings into the fold and makes fully accepted family members. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

ARC Review: HOT Valor (Hostile Operations Team #11)

HOT Valor (Hostile Operations Team #11)

by Lynn Raye Harris

 Blurb:
They told him she was dead. They lied...
Colonel John "Viper" Mendez is having the second-worst day of his life. Accused of using the Hostile Operations Team to assassinate a foreign official, he's gone from being a respected military black-ops commander to a fugitive in the space of an hour. On the run, hunted, and stripped of his honor, Mendez has nowhere to go--and few people he can trust.
Russian spy Ekaterina "Kat" Kasharin is a carbon copy of the woman Mendez once loved. Twenty-one years ago, Valentina vanished from his life. Kat claims to be her twin--but Kat's lying. Ordered by her superiors in Russian Intelligence to abandon the man she loved--or watch him die--Kat had no choice but to obey.
But twenty-one years is a long time to love a man from afar, and Kat won't stand by as a traitor plans his death--even if it means risking her heart and her life to save him. She can never reveal her true identity--or the secrets she keeps locked away. Secrets he would hate her for. Working with him is strictly business, and she won't let emotions get in the way. But the attraction between them is smoking hot--and it's not long before they're burning up the sheets.
When the truth comes out, the mission implodes. Everything Mendez thought he knew was a lie. He'll have to pull it together though before a deadly foe succeeds in taking away all he loves. By the time he realizes Kat might be most important of all? It could be too late to save her...
Themes:  Contemporary
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:

"And he wasn't going to let her make him come first. It wasn't how he was wired.  He was an alpha male, all decisive and macho, and his primary goal in any sexual encounter was to make her melt into a puddle of orgasmic bliss." (HOT Valor)--With that quote, I almost feel I don't need to bother with the review! OMG that man is so hot...I just need to run and grab ice before I share my review. 

The Colonel has finally gotten to share his story with the world and find a chance at the great love that all of his men have had.  Fans of this series have been waiting for a long time to find out who Mendez would end up with and what made him into the strong, brave, and sometimes just a little bit sad man he is.  And boy-oh-boy Mrs. Harris did NOT let us down with this one.  Exotic locations, sensual encounters, and the ultimate happiness of two people that should never have lost the chance to love. The HOT series is one where each story is a stand-alone, but the true greatness of story is only discovered when you experience the entire series.  So if you are just coming to this series, before you read HOT Valor, I highly recommend going back to the start and getting to know Mendez for the great leader he is.  If you are a fan of military Romantic suspense there is no way you will dislike Lynn's writing and this series is one that will keep you interested and you will most likely become an instant loyal fan, like all the others of us who stumbled upon this series.  I am really looking forward to wherever Lynn takes us and takes her HOT men and women, whether they are Army or Navy, all of the members of HOT are deserving of the love and devotion that Mendez and the other married guys have found in their mates.
This story kicks off with Mendez’s entire life being through into chaos when he is alerted to a plot to disgrace his team, remove him from command and ultimately have him arrested and killed.  Knowing there is always someone ready to take him down, Mendez has a backup plan, but he never imagined it would involve the woman he loved 20 years ago and lost to a tragic end.  Mendez runs in order to give himself time and when he arrives in New Orleans to meet this woman who calls herself Kat, but looks so much like the woman he loved, it is a kick in the balls.  He refuses to truly trust her, despite her claims of working to protect him. Kat is thrilled and terrified in equal portions to see Mendez, but she is determined to make sure that his life is not lost to a plot that has been in the making for 21 years.  She has lived through too much tragedy to see this brave and sexy man lose everything and die in disgrace.   Thrown together, though not to happy about it, Kat and Mendez have to get past their traumas and lies in order to trust one another, or their survival will be forfeit.  But when Kat and Mendez's pasts blows up in their faces, the desire and secrets between them, not to mention the passions and anger, have to be set aside in order to complete their mission.
Mendez has been a favorite of mine since the beginning of this series and I have been dying to know more about him--though to be fair any woman that has read this series probably has the same feeling.  He is the glue that keeps his teams together and is the man they all turn to for leadership and guidance, not only in their work but also with their personal lives.  In previous stories in the series Mendez was the one that made the love connections between the couples possible and kept them together. He is the type of alpha male that only gets better with age and it is obvious as he kicks ass and takes names that he has not lost a single bit of his skill or stamina with age.  I loved seeing him in action as an operator and though he fought hard, when he lost his heart, again, to Kat it made him even more sexy and the kind of man I would like to find to grow old with.  Kat is a woman of mystery to Mendez, but luckily Lynn doesn't keep the readers in the dark like she does Mendez, sharing Kat’s secrets and fears with us as Mendez tries to uncover them himself.  Kat has lived a nightmare for two decades, but she has tried to make the most of her circumstances and make a difference in the world and she refuses to allow anyone to take down John Mendez, knowing that a world without him is not the kind of world she wants to live in.  The more we learn about Kat, the sadder her life is but the more we see how much she needs Mendez in her life.  In the end she gets everything she has missed the past twenty years and gets a chance to start her life anew with the man she loves while allowing him to keep his place in the world to allow him to save those in need of his expertise.
HOT Valor is the story so many have been waiting for and with all the passion, suspense, and drama we have come to expect from a Harris novel, the core of this story is about two people that have been lonely and lost for two decades and finally find a way to share their hearts and lives fully.  The messy details of their pasts certainly will continue to affect them, but the love and light they bring to one another shows that Mendez and Kat will find a way to move forward in their lives despite their pasts. Mendez is a sexy, alpha operator to the core, though we have gotten used to seeing him in the role of leader and coordinator, and seeing him in the field as he works to clear his name shows that he hasn’t lost any of the skills that allowed him to be in command of such a volatile group of men and women. I enjoyed finally getting to know the story of Mendez’s past and the tragedies that shaped him into the man he is, but I also mourned with him as he relived those horrors and finally came to terms with everything.  Kat was almost as heartbreaking as she shared her past with Mendez and was forced to relive it all again and again.  Kat is the kind of woman that would not be wrongly described as a willow tree--she bends and bends, but nothing breaks her spirit as long as she knows her Johnny is out there somewhere in the world making it a better place.  While there was certainly the expected suspense and drama, the emotional roller-coasters these two find themselves leading us down will have you in tears, laughing, and wondering how they could ever get past the heartaches they carry.  Their strength and the love that brings them together in the end is undeniable and as bright as a solar flare, making it almost dangerous to look at.  I enjoyed every moment of this story and found myself unable to put it down if only to carry it with me just in case there was a minute to read a few more pages.  I feel like Mendez’s book was a turning point in the HOT world, not an ending just a new beginning, and I cannot wait to see where we go next and who will find their mate.  Lynn's writing, as always, keeps me on the edge of my seat and dying to know what happens next, but the true skill that makes Lynn Raye Harris an author to watch is the way she can lead her couples through some of the most dangerous situations while still building relationships that last forever and allowing her characters to grow and change.  Another masterpiece worthy of a place of honor on any bookshelf, be it digital or print.
*eARC provided by author for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

ARC Review: Rocky Mountain Home (Six Pack Ranch #11)

Rocky Mountain Home (Six Pack Ranch #11)

by Vivian Arend 

Blurb:
The FINAL NOVEL in the bestselling SIX PACK RANCH series by New York Times Bestselling Author Vivian Arend.
There’s no distance you can run to escape the past.
Too stubborn to face his sins, Jesse Coleman bolted from the Six Pack Ranch, only to fall straight into the arms of a beautiful stranger. Twelve hours later, the seductive firebrand is nothing but a whiskey-laced memory—but one powerful enough to convince Jesse tracking down his elusive lover is worth the effort.
Darilyn Hayes figured it was her lucky night when the sexiest cowboy in Alberta interrupted her annual drink-until-I-fall-over wake. At least until four weeks later when she discovers she’s pregnant and her one-night-stand is nowhere to be found. Still, as she’s shared with her devoted blog readers, Dare has dealt with life’s not-so-gentle surprises before. She’ll make it on her own.
When an internet picture gone viral leads to their reunion, Jesse’s floored by Dare’s news. She’s very clear she’s not looking for a commitment, but screw that. He’s going to do the right thing by her and his unborn kid. The fact they lit the sheets on fire is a bonus, but with a baby on the way, both their lives are gonna change.
Jesse’s got a ton of family to reconnect with, including his estranged twin. Dare holds family loosely—even though she loves them—because she knows too well how fragile life can be. Between her and Jesse, they’ve got enough baggage to open a store.
But they still have a shot at forever—if they’re willing to fight for it.
Themes:  Erotica
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating:  
Review:
 The final Coleman has finally found his way home and his story brings us around full circle to this amazing family and the small town they have sort of overrun. Having been a fan of this series from the very beginning I was so sad to see the way Jesse began to struggle to find his happiness, pushing his family away, and leaving himself needing to leave them behind in order to find a way to become his own man and find his true place in the world. But it turns out that the love of a good woman is all that he really needed to set him on the straight and narrow, and maybe a little secret that would remind him how crucial having family support really is.  The plot for this story might seem a tried and true trope to some, man meets woman, has a crazy passionate night and then finds her missing the next morning only to find out many months later that she is carrying his child.  But thankfully the magic of Vivian Arend keeps the story from becoming staid and clich├ęd. I loved the story and was a bit sad to see the end of the Six-Pack Coleman’s stories, but there are a few singles left and I hope to continue to catch glimpses of them in those stories.  The most important thing about this story is that a woman and man have finally found their future together and given each other the love and stability they have been looking for during the many long and lonely nights.
Jess and Dare were especially exciting because they were both such story and passionate individuals and when they come together the sparks fly and are hot enough to cause a full-fledged forest fire.  Dare has been fighting loneliness and wondering where her place in the world really is and having Jesse show up in her life made her wonder if possibly she could have a mate in her life.  Being pregnant wasn’t on her list of things to do, but when she finds out she is carrying Jesse’s child she doesn’t for a single moment doubt that she will be a good mother to her baby.  Dare has the type of strong and dedicated personality that makes her independent streak less about ego and more about her own ability to care for herself.  I was thrilled to get to know her and see how she might be able to find her place in the Coleman Clan, even though watching her struggle with the traumas of her own past and Jesse’s as well was a truly heart wrenching experience.  Jesse himself was breaking my heart every moment of the story that he was revving my engine.  There are so many deep and varied sides to this cowboy that I never expected and when he finally had to share his failures with his family and dare, the only way he could truly heal from those past problems, I was in tears and wishing I was nearby to hug him close.  Though we had watched him grow through the entire series, seeing Jesse become a father and husband was a truly sweet experience. Jesse proved to be the strong and loving man that all his brothers and cousins were, though he of course has his own problems and quirks to get over before he truly became the man he was meant to be.
Rocky Mountain Home is truly a story of a man finding his way home and bringing with him the woman that has been in need of a true home and finally found it with the Colemans.  If you have been a fan of this series then you can understand why this story was so emotional for me, even though I knew his story would tear me up even before the first word was read.  I have loved the Colemans for many years now and watched each member of the family go through their growing pains and finally find their paths and their mates. The truth is that these strong and sweet men and women are what everyone wants to find in their mate, with the added something extra of being the totally sexy and out of this world cowboys and cowgirls. Dare was a woman that embraced her life fully, even as it threw changes at her again and again, showing the ingenuity and bravery that makes a woman willing to give up just about anything for the man she loves.  Jesse finally steps up and becomes the man he was always destined to become, showing us that while he has certainly made some questionable decisions in the recent past, he is a Coleman through and through and will always step up for those that depend on him. Dare and Jesse together made for a fiery and sensual story, even as they came to grips with her pregnancy and the looming truth of parenthood, slowly falling in love as they embrace the lust that brought them together in the first place. I was thrilled to read their story and see them find their place together and in the Coleman clan, though I was sad too that they has some much against them from the beginning, making their journey that much more difficult.  In the end this story might have been one that ripped out my heart, brought me to tears, and reminded me the true value and benefit of a mate in life, not just a hot man to warm my bed at night.  I am thrilled to see where this family might go next and what Vivi will have coming our way in the near future and highly recommend that if you haven’t found a place on your bookshelves for the Coleman family, you run out right now and grab the entire amazing series, because there truly is very little that is more magical than these stories of love, redemption, family, and the ultimate belonging in this world. I was blown away by the love and magic of this story and reminded of why I fell in love with romance novels over almost two decades ago.

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