Archives for July 2012

Review: The Covert Wolf

Reviewed by Jen

Matthew is a Draicon wolf who serves in an elite Navy SEAL team of supernatural soldiers.  Their existence is a secret, but their service is invaluable, as they help fight demons and other evil entities bent on chaos and destruction.

The story begins with the death of Matt’s best friend Adam.  Someone used a powerful orb to pinpoint the team’s location and send fire-wielding demons to ambush them.  Now, Matt is on the hunt for the orb and whoever orchestrated Adam’s death. His boss forces him to pair with Sienna, a Draicon-Fae hybrid, who wants to bring the object back to her people.  The SEALs have different plans for the orb, but they keep that to themselves.

Sienna thinks if she recovers the orb, she’ll be accepted by the Fae who cast her out when she came of age.  Her Draicon heritage made her an outcast and all she wants is for the loneliness to end.  She despises the Draicons, because she was told her wolfen father raped her Fae mother and was ultimately responsible for her death.  She considers the shifters to be nothing more than animals, which makes her very unhappy to have Matt as a partner.  He’s not much happier with the arrangement, since the Dark Fae killed Adam.

But despite their initial disdain for one another, an attraction builds between them over the course of their investigation.  It’s a slow build, with a lot of sexual tension, which I appreciate. I also thought the sex was great, once it finally came to pass.  My biggest problem with the relationship is that neither one of them wanted a future with the other.  All the way until the very end, Matt is determined that he is going to leave Sienna and wipe her memories so he can get back to his job. And she is so anti-wolf that she can’t see past the blinders that the Fae is her whole world.  It’s hard to get behind a relationship when it’s so devalued by both the hero and the heroine.  Even when it was obvious that only the other person could make them happy, they stubbornly stuck to their old ways of thinking. It was frustrating.

The orb arc was kind of convoluted.  I had a hard time making a connection between Adam’s death and the end-game for the bad guys.  All the scheming and plotting was complicated, with big reveals at the end.

The book is tied to Bonnie Vanak’s Draicon series, but it has a decidedly different feel.  It’s the first in a spinoff series surrounding Matt’s SEAL unit, so it would be easy for a new reader to jump in.  Honestly, I enjoyed the last couple of Draicon books a bit more than I liked this one.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Covert Wolf
by Bonnie Vanak
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin

Giveaway: Gunmetal Magic

You guys know I think Ilona Andrews is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Her latest book, Gunmetal Magic, releases July 31st. And to share the love, I am giving away a copy!

Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea’s former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate … and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world ..

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Seduced by Blood

Reviewed by Jen

Not every book in this series has been created equal, but I think this is definitely one of the strongest installments.

The story features Santiago, regional commander of the vampire Guardians. (And for those of you following along from the previous books, the boss of Dominic, Lily and Jackson.)  He’s gruff and impatient. He’s domineering and prone to outbursts.  But there is much more to him than that.  He’s also a man full of angst and self-loathing for his own failings. He tortures himself (literally) over his perceived shortcomings.  And he believes himself to be incapable of treating a woman any better than his adulterous father treated his mother.

Santiago’s life gets turned on its ear when Roxy enters the picture.  She is a woman who knows her own mind and heart. He’s not her boss, so she doesn’t have to take his crap… and he barely knows what to do with himself when his tantrums and orders fall on deaf ears.

Roxy was a Guardian long ago, but now she is a teacher to those who need to learn to scent-track. She agrees to teach a course for her old student and friend, Lily, which is what puts her in Santiago’s orbit.  But once he realizes there may be a traitor in his organization, he realizes he can use her special gifts to sniff them out. The two end up posing as lovers as a cover for her internal investigation. From there, it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump until their ruse turns into reality.

I liked Roxy a lot. She has issues, sure, but for the most part, she really has her act together.  For all of his swagger and bluster, Santiago is really kind of a basket case.  I enjoyed watching him come to terms with his problems and accept the gifts Roxy is giving.

We didn’t have to wait terribly long for the sex, which was gratifying (’cause the sex was good.)  But I really appreciated the fact that the tender feelings between Roxy and Santiago grew over the course of the book. It felt like their relationship was an evolution and that helped me invest more. –I also thought the Darkblood plot was well-done.  The pacing was good and I liked that the resolution was neither obvious, nor tied in a perfectly neat bow.

The internal conflict was a little heavy on assumptions and misunderstandings, but I’ve seen worse.

This is book four in the Sweetblood series and I think it would work as a standalone, though longtime readers will no doubt enjoy seeing the couples featured in previous books.  I loved seeing how far Dominic and Mackenzie have come!

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Seduced by Blood
by Laurie London
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Publisher: HQN

 

Review: Sight Unseen

Reviewed by Jen

Ever since a car accident killed his lover and stole his vision two years ago, Daniel has been able to see ghosts.  It hasn’t been an easy gift to bear.  Each spirit wants his help with something, but he can’t hear them –he can only see them.  Recently, he has been working with the local police, leading them to bodies and helping them solve crimes involving his ghosts.  His work has drawn the attention of the media and a publishing house that wants to do a biography.

Logan is the ghostwriter assigned to convince Daniel to do the book.  He thinks Daniel is a con man and he makes it his mission to expose the truth.  He’s in for a rude awakening when he discovers that not only are the ghosts real, but he is being haunted by the ghost of Sophie, his own late wife.

Sophie’s spirit quickly goes from benign to malevolent, when an attraction sparks between Logan and Daniel.  And she makes no secret of her displeasure.  The story follows Daniel and Logan as their feelings evolve and as Sophie finds a way to exert her will in the physical world.

I liked the concept of the book and both male leads interested me.  Unfortunately, things progress far, far too quickly between them.  I believe in a quick sexual attraction, but Logan is inviting himself to live with Daniel after knowing each other less than a day. Even worse, Daniel considers it.  They are proclaiming their love for each other inside of a week.  And while I did like the cool scene in which Logan makes his declaration, it was just too soon.  My other peeve in the book is how easily and frequently people discuss Daniel and Logan’s sex life.  I understand it was supposed to be relevant to the haunting, but Who does that?

I enjoyed exploring the perspective of a blind main character.  It was different and, I thought, handled well.  I also liked the sexual tension between Daniel and Logan –and their final love scene was really hot.  I thought the epilogue was good too. I just wish their relationship had not been so rushed. It really stunted the believability of their emotional connection.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Sight Unseen
by Hunter Raines
Release Date: July 23, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press

Review: The Concubine’s Gift

Reviewed by Shelly

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did.

Valentine, Nevada, local Bernice Babbitt is socially reserved and sexually repressed but that’s all about to change when she gets a make-up case containing a secret that will open her eyes and her world. Living in a town that was founded for the sole purpose of housing prostitutes, it’s no wonder that many of the locals (including Bernice’s mother) want to distance both themselves and the town from such a sordid past. Except Bernice. She doesn’t really believe that the town should distance itself, she’s actually quite happy that the it continues in its deep tradition of prostitution.

Innocent and childlike in her outlook on life, Bernice thinks all problems can be fixed with a ‘smile, laughter or a willingness to over-please’. She loves her family and the inn they own and if she can keep both her family and her customers happy then she’s happy too.  And although Bernice likes the simple things in life, she’s hidden away quite a collection of female erotic memorabilia. One of her new purchases is a makeup case housing a jar of powder that when applied allows the wearer to have visions of the true sexual desires of certain people around them.

It’s through these visions that Bernice starts realizing what’s important to her. She has visions of the town locals and guests at the inn, all culminating when she has a vision of her only daughter. This is when the story gets really interesting to me, because up to now Bernice has lived her life according to her mother’s teachings – judge yourself based on the way others see you and not what you believe to be the right way. Bernice has it so bad, she hasn’t even told her husband of twenty years about her secret stash.

There’s plenty of secondary characters who keep this story moving along at a very nice and even clip, like Mrs. Lin the local antique seller, who Bernice gets her erotica from. Mrs. Lin cracked me up, she’s Asian in ancestry and ethnicity but is absolutely convinced that in a former life she was Italian royalty. And so there’s a whole story around her and her husband’s love of all things European.

There’s Harold, who’s just moved from San Francisco and wants to open a sex shop store in Valentine. Trinket, a waitress at a cafe across the street from Bernice’s inn. Trinket’s a bit free with her sexuality. It’s actually quite rare if she’s without a sexual partner. And of course, the town bully Lawrence Charles who’s so greedy that he wants to close the local whorehouse, The Honey Bunny Ranch, so he can build his retirement community for the wealthy.  These were all really fun people to get to know, some more than I wanted to, but it totally worked and kept the story moving along.

Although there’s no sexually explicit scenes with Bernice and her husband there’s one vision that she had with herself and another character that I thought was pretty hot after I got over the shock of it. Most, if not all of the visions were sexual in nature and so for me it was a little hard to find them exciting as I didn’t see them as real.

I completely enjoyed this story of Bernice and her evolution from what I would consider mousy and timid into a strong and determined woman, it left me with a big smile.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this story and look forward to other novels from this author – keep  ’em coming.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: A


*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Concubine’s Gift
by K Ford K
Release Date: January 29, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace

Review: Forever a Lady

Reviewed by Jen

Life has not been kind to Matthew Milton.  An unscrupulous businessman tumbled his father’s newspaper into bankruptcy, pushing them into the slums of Five Points, New York.  There, an attack from a thug stole the vision from one eye and taught him a value lesson about the kind of man he would need to become in order to survive.  Matthew toughens up and forms an Irish-American gang, one that tries to protect the neighborhood, even if they have to stoop to illegal means to do it.

After a hit is put out on his life, Matthew journeys with his best friend to London, where he meets Lady Bernadette for the first time.  They are instantly drawn to one another, despite their vast difference in station. Bernadette has lived a life of pleasing others for too long. As a widow, she is now free from both her father and the old man she was forced to marry. In Matthew, she sees what she wants and she takes it.

After a night in each other’s arms, Matthew knows he wants more than a fling with Bernadette.  But the odds are stacked against him.  She has no desire to marry again.  And to make matters worse, he makes a whopper of a mistake that almost ends things for good.  The story follows the ins and outs of their love affair as they return to New York and Matthew struggles to become worthy of the woman he has fallen in love with.

I liked Matthew. He was sexy and damaged, but he was solid hero material.  He always puts the needs of others before himself. Even as a ruffian, he is very good man.  Bernadette is understandably gun-shy.  Being a widow of means, she sees marriage as a trap to avoid and I can’t blame her.  –Oh and did I mention she is mid-30s?  About six years older than the hero.  I loved that.  She is mature and she knows what she wants, but I didn’t find her jaded.  She was still genuine and passionate despite the bindings of her earlier life.

I really felt like I witnessed a true journey in this relationship –and especially one for Matthew.  I liked that I got to see these two really fall in love over time. It felt authentic.  The sex was hot. (And pushed the envelope more than I expected.)  The plot was interesting. And the backdrop was very Gangs of New York. It was gritty and dark, especially when juxtaposed to London culture.

This is book two in The Rumor series, but works just fine as a standalone. I liked it a lot.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Forever a Lady
by Delilah Marvelle
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Publisher: HQN Books

Review: Blood Moon

Reviewed by Jen

I have to be honest with you. I wanted this book to be something different. I wanted it to be a romance. It wasn’t. There was sex. There were relationships… of a fashion. But there wasn’t a drop of romance to be had.

This is book two in the Mythic series and as the story began, I was still smarting from the ending of the last book. If you haven’t read Mythic, before you start this book, you need to know that Gianna is a rare human-vampire hybrid. She hated the vampire Mattias because she thought he killed her parents. She fell in love with another vampire, Nicolas. They were going to be together until she found out Mattias actually saved her parents and has protected them for years. Then Mattias gave her an ultimatum: be with him or he kills Nicolas. So out of gratitude for her parents and out of concern for her lover, she agrees to become Mattias’ woman.

Obviously, as this book started, I was still firmly in the Nicolas camp. And Gianna does still love him, but she’s attracted to Mattias like a moth to a flame. A nymphomaniac moth. It was very hard to accept her relationship with this man who practically forced her into it. But moving on… the story is actually about a THIRD guy. Dante is Mattias’ second in command. He, too, is in love with Gianna. He knows he can’t beat Mattias for her in a fair fight, so he leaves the coven to go to Greece so he can perform some ritual to embody the power of the Greek pantheon. He plans to rule as a God, with Gianna as his queen.

Mattias catches wind of this and sends Gianna to Greece to try to steal the book Dante needs to perform the ritual. Gianna has to go mighty far to convince Dante of her loyalty, and she actually gets turned on by the sexy times she has with him. If that weren’t enough for me to consider her a total ho-bag, then she has more dirty sexy times with a brand new random shifter guy. Or was it a dream? It doesn’t freaking matter, because I have lost all respect for her by this point. Why does every man want to sleep with her? Why does she want to get naked with every man? Remember you’re supposed to be in love with Nicolas? Where the hell is Nicolas, anyway?

In the meantime, Dante has a human chick in love with him. He treats her like crap, but taking it proves her love, right?

“Remember who it is you serve Allyn. You’ll do as I command whether it is to nourish me with your blood or place your tongue between Gianna’s legs while I bury my cock in other parts of her body. You won’t refuse or you’ll be dealt the punishment of death for your defiance. Understood? Because I’d hate to repeat myself, he said.
A single tear trailed over her cheek. “After all this time, you still don’t understand, do you? Threaten me all you’d like Dante. Because the truth be told, I love the way you touch me, how your hands feel on my body as you take what you wish. Even now, with such harsh words, I ache so terribly for you to fill me, I could die.”

I’m sorry. I could not get on board with any of the pairings in this book. And I couldn’t relate to any of the characters. Mythic had a couple I could root for. This one just doesn’t. The sex was hot, but I couldn’t enjoy it because I didn’t understand why any of these people wanted each other… much less had any more tender feelings.

It just didn’t work for me.

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Blood Moon
by Jae Lynne Davies
Release Date: June 16, 2012
Publisher: Tease Publishing

Review: Wilder’s Mate

Reviewed by Jen

 

Moira Rogers had seamlessly blended multiple genres to create a really cool series with the Bloodhounds.  It’s got elements of steampunk, paranormal romance, and even the Old West.  And somehow, it works.  Amidst the vampires and shifters, steam-powered devices, horseback riding and really hot sex, I found a story I didn’t want to put down.

Satira grew up the sort-of adopted daughter of a Bloodhound.  Once he was gone, she became an apprentice to an inventor named Nathaniel… and he became her family.  Now someone has kidnapped him and all that matters to Satira is getting him back.  When the Guild sends Wilder to help search for him, she refuses to remain on the sidelines and offers her help on the hunt.

Wilder is no ordinary man. He is a Bloodhound, and if you’re wondering what that means, suffice it to say that he is an enhanced human. (Getting into more specifics would only spoil it for you as it all plays out.)   There is an attraction between him and Satira right away.  The story follows the two of them as they work together to rescue Nathaniel and eventually give into their desire to be together.

I really enjoyed this book. You’d think with so many different genres mishmashed together, it could overwhelm the story, but it doesn’t. The world-building unfolds over the course of the book, but I didn’t ever feel lost in the process. I was very much in the moment with Wilder and Satira.  There were times the heroine felt a little desperate, which made me cringe a bit. But thankfully, her attraction was not one sided.

The sexual tension was great and the sex was even better. It was hot and raw and Wilder was deliciously Alpha in the sack. He has all this barely leashed power and still a sweet vulnerability which makes him downright irresistible.

When she isn’t emotionally needy, Satira is a pretty good heroine.  Her history with Bloodhounds allows her to understand Wilder in a way that not every woman could. She is loyal, determined and capable, despite the fact that society devalues her because she is woman.  And when all is said and done, she really delivers.

In the course of the story, we meet some intriguing secondary characters who will go on star in their own books in the series. But make no mistake, this is Wilder’s book. He stole the show and blew me away.

Rating: B+

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Wilder’s Mate
by Moira Rogers
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Publisher: Samhain

5 for Friday – July 20

Happy Friday!  Today’s the day I go down in history as either the Best Mother in the World or the Worst.  For an early 7th birthday present, I bought my son tickets to go see WWE Raw.  I only bought two, so he can go with the hubs but they allegedly have some autograph signings or something for the kids first, so I am tagging along for that.  Some of these dudes are built like shit-brick-houses, so I’ll let you know if I see anything worth reporting.

5. I am getting more and more excited about this upcoming Styxx book from Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Photo Source: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Facebook Page

2013 is so far away!!

4. Which brings me to that other book I am waiting for with baited breath… Lover At Last.  JR Ward posted the following on her Facebook page:

What does this MEAN?? Is he losing his heart? His sock? His cherry as a bottom?? (I could be down with that, by the way.)  Ward is trying to keeel me!

3. Speaking of hot m/m action, Jennifer at The Book Nympho tipped me off to this fabulous article on straight girls and gay porn.

I know it doesn’t wet everyone’s whistle, but it’s nice to see I’m in such good company!

2. We’ve all got our guilty pleasure reads, and mine are Christine Feehan’s Carpathian books.  I can do no other than to keep reading them. (Only other Feehan readers will get that joke.)  Christine has posted the first chapter of Dark Storm on her website.  Here are the deets:

Return to the seductive world of Christine Feehan’s New York Times bestselling Carpathian novels as roiling passions collide in a perfect storm of dangerous desire that only a precious few can hope to outrun . . .Awakening after all this time in a world of absolute darkness and oppressive heat, Dax wonders in how many ways the world above must have changed. But it is how he has changed that fills him with dread and loathing. Buried alive for hundreds of years in a volcano in the Carpathian Mountains, Dax fears that he has become the full-fledged abomination that every Carpathian male fears, a victim of the insidious evil that has crept relentlessly into his mind and body over the centuries. But there are some things that never change.

His name is Mitro, the vampire Dax had hunted all these long centuries. Second in command to the prince of the Carpathian people he is the epitome of everything malevolent, and perpetrator of one of the most shocking killing sprees known to man – and beast. Even his friends and family weren’t safe from Mitro’s bloodlust. Neither was Mitro’s lifemate, Arabejila, an extraordinary woman with extraordinary gifts. But now that Dax has re-emerged, so too has Mitro. The ultimate battle between good and evil has been re-engaged. Between Dax and Mitro, a violent game has begun – one that has marked Riley Parker, the last descendent of Arabejila, as the reward.

Who the hell are these people?  I want Skylar and Dmitri. (*whine font*) Feehan jumped ahead 50 years between the first two books. She can jump another 5 years for this one!!  Patience is not my greatest strength.

1. And finally, Penguin is giving away a copy of Fury’s Kiss before you can buy it!

   Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. But so far, Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing… 
   Dory is used to fighting hard and nasty. So when she wakes up in a strange scientific lab with astrange man standing over her, her first instinct is to take his head off. Luckily, the man is actually the master vampire Louis-Cesare, so he’s not an easy kill.
   It turns out that Dory had been working with a Vampire Senate task force on the smuggling of magical items and weaponry out of Faerie when she was captured and brought to the lab. But when Louis-Cesare rescues her, she has no memory of what happened to her.
   To find out what was done to her—and who is behind it—Dory will have to face off with fallen angels, the maddest of mad scientists, and a new breed of vampires that are far worse than undead…

Fury’s Kiss is out October 2nd. The contest runs through August 3rd.

XOXO,
Jen

Review: Freya’s Journey

Reviewed by Shelly
 

This is a very quick read, about 19 – 24 pages (according to your font setting) in an ePub file.

***Warning – read the blurb folks, when Ms. Rose says that “Freya seeks out her consort and ‘step-brother’ Frey for his knowledge on how to please her” – that’s code for they have sex. So if you’re not into siblings/step-siblings having sex (aka incest), don’t read this story. You’ve been warned.
Freya, the goddess of sex, love and fertility is missing her husband Od, the god of sun something fierce. She decides that the only way to assuage her desires is to go find him herself.  I’m not sure how long he’s been missing or why his/her guards couldn’t go looking for him but hey I’ll suspend my thinking abilities for now. So off she goes to find Od but decides to make a quick overnight stop at her step-brother’s, Frey, house to get information on Od’s whereabouts and to have sex.  I am NOT a fan of incest, no matter how much it’s dressed up or what it’s dressed up as.
Hold on, I’m not done yet. I kept reading because I was sure the story could only go up from here. Oh, how wrong I was. Once Freya left her step-brother’s house she meets four dwarf brothers in a cave with whom she has sex with (as a trade for a necklace and information about her husband’s whereabouts). At this point, I’m kinda wondering what kind of goddess this woman is because she’s going around having sex with all kinds of folks in order to quench her thirst? Doesn’t she have goddess powers to help with that?
Anyway, Freya finally meets up with Od and the end happened so quickly, I had to read it twice because here I am reading through an incest scene and I get a quickie ending. Dog-gone-it, I was hot but not in a good way. I’m taking points off for the sibling sex, the abrupt ending, and Freya telling the dwarfs that she’ll trade her two daughters for the necklace (that ain’t cool.)
Not-Happy Reading Folks!
Rating: F

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Freya’s Journey
by Tiffany Rose
Release Date: May 27, 2012