Archives for June 2013

Review: Out of Control

Reviewed by Jaimie

I’m always on the lookout for books by authors that I haven’t read previously, because I like a wide variety of books and every author has a unique style of writing which I enjoy. It can be hit or miss when you approach a “new to you” author but in this case I definitely found one that I will continue to read. Stephanie Feagan writes romantic suspense and historical books and she also writes young adult books under the name Trinity Feagan.

Blair Drake is an oil rig blowout specialist who comes from a wealthy family that has disowned her. After a series of deliberate oil rig explosions, Blair teams up with Nick Robichaud, an oil well fire expert, to stop a plot to cripple the world’s oil supply. Blair and Nick have red hot chemistry, but Blair has been burned in the past by her ex-husband so she has trouble trusting people, especially men. In order to survive they must learn to trust each other, but with Nick clearly hiding something and time running out, Blair is forced to take a leap of faith.

The action in this book starts pretty much right away and it doesn’t let up. While inspecting an oil rig, Blair sees a suspicious looking man who appears to be watching her. She ignores the bad feeling she has and completes her inspection but a few seconds after her helicopter takes off, the rig explodes killing everyone on board. Shortly after the helicopter pilot is murdered and Blair finds out that there have been a number of explosions at various rigs. Blair is sent to put out one of the fires along with Nick, who she is very attracted to, but thinks he’s a chauvinist. From there they discover a plot to drive up oil prices by destroying key oil rigs, and their quest to stop it takes them to Saudi Arabia.

Right off the bat I loved Blair. She is a strong female heroine and she holds her own in a field dominated by men. In a lot of stories, the heroine starts off strong but later turns into a vulnerable, let the man take the lead kind of girl, but Stephanie writes her as a kickass woman throughout. Don’t get me wrong, she has moments where she’s feeling vulnerable and she does have a softer side, but it doesn’t come at the expense of her overall character. I particularly enjoyed the parts when Nick and Blair were in Saudi Arabia and hearing her inner dialogue over the way women are treated and viewed there. I also really liked the interaction between Blair and Conaway, a female reporter in training. The two bantered back and forth in a way that you can picture your friends and you talking. I really hope this is going to be a series and that we get a book for Conaway.

The entire book is narrated from Blair’s point of view. I would have enjoyed having it from both Blair and Nick’s points of view just to switch it up a little bit, but it certainly didn’t ruin the story for me. It is very obvious Feagan did her research about the oil industry which is great, but at times it almost felt like there was too much description of the various parts of the machinery, etc. This happens early on in the story and again it is not something that would have ruined the book for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I can’t wait to check out more books from Stephanie Feagan. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this turns into a series.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Entangled

Click to purchase: Amazon
Out of Control
by Stephanie Feagan
Release Date: June 24, 2013
Publisher: Entangled

Review: Stalking the Others

Reviewed by Jen

Well, I’ll give you this. Jess Haines knows how to go for a big ending. Wow.

This installment of H&W Investigations picks up right where the last one left off.  Shiarra is out for blood. Chaz and his pack nearly destroyed her in the last book. She is livid over his betrayal and terrified that she may be turning were.  So she decides to take matters into her own hands and seek revenge.

Unfortunately, the Sunchasers don’t make it easy for her. They go into hiding at the same time she knows she is a walking target. She can’t stay home; she won’t stay under Royce’s thumb, so she goes to find sanctuary and back-up with the White Hats.  Just like we got an intimate look at the weres in the last book, here we are getting even deeper with the renegade humans here, especially Jack.

But the real meat of the story was inside Shiarra head.  One of the things I have consistently liked about these books is Shia’s voice. I have always found her easy to relate to; I could always understand her thoughts and motivations.  Here… not so much.  She really goes off the deep end. I found myself questioning her bloodlust and her need for vengeance which seemed totally out of proportion and, honestly, out of character.  I mean, yeah, Chaz is a dick. He deserved to be dumped –humiliated, even– but does he deserve to die for being a cheater?  It was a tough read at times to see Shiarra fall so far.

But Haines has a plan.  I won’t tell you what it is, but I will say I started to suspect about 40 pages before it was revealed.  It was enough to make me feel a little smart, but also a little dumb for not figuring it out sooner.  I still hate Chaz.  And Royce… well… I have mixed feelings there.  He is sexy to be sure. And I believe he feels something for Shiarra.  But I don’t know what. I don’t entirely trust him, and his power over Shiarra makes me nervous.

All in all, I’d say the book is a pretty good ride.  Kind of a roller coaster.  I’m still kind of high on the ending. But I am scared to pick of up the next book. It’s called FORSAKEN By the Others. Who is going to betray her next? I don’t know if my heart can take it.

Rating: B+

P.S. Huge improvement on the cover!

*Book provided by author

Click to purchase: Amazon

Stalking the Others
by Jess Haines
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Kensington

Series Reading Order: H&W Investigations

This is the reading order for the H&W Investigations series by Jess Haines:

*Denotes short story/ novella

Review: The Trouble With Fate

Reviewed by Carrie

Hedi Peacock is living a lie. She’s half Fae, half werewolf and a mystwalker and completely lost in life. After being attacked by a pack of weres, Heidi has to retrieve an amulet from her childhood crush who she believes may have played a part in her parent’s death in order to rescue her kidnapped aunt. This book is kind of a hot mess. It suffers from the first book syndrome of trying to tell the reader too much information. This book felt like a friend trying to tell you a good story but kept on stopping and changing direction when she remembered something else. There were bits and pieces left all over and not all of them made sense.

I really loved Heidi. I have an affinity for troubled souls and she is certainly that. She’s caught between two worlds being a half-Fae half-Were. She had to witness the deaths of her parents. She watched her twin brother carted away to the Fae realm. On top of all that, Heidi had to live under the radar her crazy Aunt Lou and Merry, her enchanted Fae amulet. She’s torn. She’s lost. She’s lonely. Despite all of her heartbreak, she finds ways to compartmentalize her pain to move on to the next challenge.

Enter her childhood crush, Robson Trowbridge, the son of the deceased Alpha who is trying to figure out who killed his father, mother, brother and wife. I pieced together that he’s been spending the last 10 years at the bottom of a bottle, but returns to Creemore at the behest of his sister, who is mentioned once and never talked about again. Trowbridge, (what a mouthful of a name), has the amulet that opens the portal to the Fae realm. Heidi nearly steals the amulet out from under him but is caught and in what seems like the next breath, they are doing it and being mated.

It’s understandable how she could very quickly fall for this man – she’s young, naïve and lonely. Trowbridge is one minute mooning over his deceased wife and the next trying to get into Heidi’s pants. The whole business of them hooking up and then mating was glossed over and left me feeling quite confused. Finally, the biggest head scratcher was the amulet. Supposedly made of Fae gold and therefore mutable, it mainly hung out around Heidi’s boobs. I just couldn’t use the written words to form a visual in my mind that made sense. Sometimes it would hop around and move and other times, I think, would grow gold vines and twist around things? I’m still not sure even after reading the passage about 10 times.

Despite all the WTH moments, I really did feel like my girlfriend was telling me a good story but talking so fast she was leaving out important things. I’m continuing on to the second book with a firm hope that the author fills in the blanks because the writing is certainly there.

Rating: C+

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Trouble With Fate
by Leigh Evans
Release Date: December 24, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Review: Gavin’s Submissives

Reviewed by Shelly

I’m a fan of this publisher, but the author is someone that I’ve not read in the past. Considering there are quite a few of her books through this publisher I decided to take a chance on this story; it doesn’t hurt that I’m a fan of the category and it’s a relatively quick read. This is the first in the Creek Valley series where ménage and the like are not uncommon.

Fresh out of a marriage with an abusive husband, Heidi is finally free to pursue some measure of happiness. Deciding to move back to her hometown of Creek Valley where she felt comfortable and safe Heidi temporarily moves in with her childhood friend Landon and his lover/Dom, Gavin. Although Heidi has been away for ten years, Landon has been a faithful friend and kept in touch with her over time… and he’s always had a thing for her. Can these three make a go of things or will past actions, hurtful words and Heidi’s ex put a stop to their happiness?

Heidi is a full figured woman who –despite the ending result of her previous marriage– is an admitted submissive. Regardless of the non-excusable verbal and physical abuse she suffered in her marriage, she  enjoyed the dominance of her husband – the telling her what to do, what to wear kind of thing. So it wasn’t a shock that she didn’t blink an eye when Landon confessed to the D/s lifestyle that he prefers with Gavin. She did have problems dealing with the budding relationship between the three of them, but they were more self-directed about what she could offer the guys. I did have a problem with was the timing of everything and a couple other things – but before I get ahead of myself, I’ll tell you some of the good stuff

Landon is a relatively nice guy. He’s always always had a thing for Heidi and during his time with Gavin he’s let it be known that he still loves her and if he ever gets the chance with her he’ll take it. I thought that was an honest approach and I appreciated that the author didn’t have Heidi and Landon re-meet and then have the miraculous, can’t live without each other falling in love. There were moments that I wanted to bash Landon’s head in, but in the end he prevailed and my likability of him was restored.

Gavin, the Dom in the relationship, came across a little…I don’t know…spoiled and temperamental is all I can think of. There’s a sensitive moment between him and Landon where I couldn’t believe his reaction as a grown ass man and a Dom no less. But that’s okay because I don’t have to like them all the time, right?

Here’s what I wasn’t so keen on – Gavin’s quick concession to a relationship with Heidi. He’d met her less that one day when that happened. And even though he grew up in the same town he didn’t remember Heidi, so why so soon – because of Landon? No way – I’m gonna need more convincing than that. Another bother for me was a sex scene when Heidi noticed that Gavin’s not wearing a condom and ‘she scared to ask him why and what it actually meant’. COME on, seriously she’s that big of a doormat she’s not concern with the High V, STDs or pregnancy? That’s just dumb.

Don’t take my small rant to mean I didn’t like it, because I liked it enough to want to read the next story in the series as I thought this was a nice introduction. If you’re a fan of Oaks Bliss series this might tickle your fancy.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: B-

Click to purchase: Amazon
Gavin’s Submissives
by Sam Crescent
Release Date: June 12, 2013
Publisher: Evernight Publishing

Review: Tempest Reborn

Reviewed by Jen

After the soul stomping ending of the last Jane True book, I was ready for this book to sweep me off my feet and continue the wild ride from page one. Let me warn you now, it doesn’t do that. In fact, for the first 90+ pages, I found myself struggling to get through the book.  There’s a lot of quiet misery, which I understand.  But there is a huge amount of time devoted to existential ideas and ideology inside the world building.  I found myself asking What happened to the characters I love so much in this series? The relationships? The action?  The short answer: they’re here.  You just don’t see them until about a third of the way into the book.

That being said, the second two thirds of the book were great.  After the requisite amount of research (*shudder*) Jane figures out what she needs to do to save Anyan from a lifetime trapped inside an evil white dragon.  Jane must work with her band of friends and supporters to get the job done.  It’s a mishmash of her people from Rockabill and those she has met in her various adventures. (Honestly, I wish I would have done a series re-read, because I kind of struggled remembering who everyone was.)  But it became increasingly obvious just how vital her team is to her success.

It’s a great finish to the series in a few ways: most notably with Jane and Anyan. One of my chief complaints about their relationship has always been in how it’s been ridiculously parceled out. The wait for them to finally get together was excruciating.  Thankfully, all of that is over.  We finally see Jane and Anyan as they were meant to be together. Plenty of love; plenty of sex.  Plenty satisfying.  Also great: Nicole Peeler ties up her loose ends nicely.  We get resolution on many lingering threads. We see what happens to all these characters we have gotten to know.  And finally –we see Jane come full circle.  She has evolved into this awesome champion… only to find it’s her fragile humanity –her heart– that makes her capable of saving the world.  Good stuff.

There were a couple of niggles.  Like I said, the start was really slow.  And this book is really missing the humor I have come to love from Jane and the series.  There’s a great line about sex surrounded by Oreos and a river of milk that gave me a chuckle, but all in all… it’s heavy.  The prior installments really  balanced the humor and the serious in a way this book just didn’t.

All in all, though, I liked the way it ended.  Peeler throws in a good surprise or two and kept me emotionally invested until the end.  A satisfying conclusion to a good series.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Orbit

Click to purchase: Amazon
Tempest Reborn
by Nicole Peeler
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Orbit

Review: Dire Distraction

Reviewed by Jaimie

Avery Solomon is the leader of A-Tac, a black-ops division of the CIA that uses their jobs at a university as their cover. He has saved countless numbers of people but still harbours a lot of guilt over the death of his wife 14 years ago in a car bomb in Iraq. During a mission in Afghanistan, a computer hard drive is recovered which produces what appears to be a photograph of his wife with a calendar behind her indicating that she is in fact still alive. Solomon sets off for Southeast Asia without the back-up of his team, on a quest to find out the truth. There he teams up with Sydney Price, an undercover operative who poses as a wilderness guide.

I had read the first two books of this series and then for whatever reason did not keep up with it. After reading this installment I cannot remember why! Sparks fly right off the bat between Avery and Sydney, but considering he is on a mission to find out if his wife is alive, they are slow to act on it. While journeying through the jungle, we find out plenty of background information on both characters and together they begin to heal some of their old wounds.

Sydney is the type of female heroine that I love – she’s strong, can kick some ass and she knows it. That being said she does have a soft side and insecurities that we all deal with. Her views on love are fairly negative as she grew up in a home where her parents were utterly in love and devoted to each other, which resulted in a very lonely childhood for her. She convinces herself that she enjoys her solo life, not relying on anyone, but after witnessing the closeness between Solomon and his team, her outlook starts to change. I was also happy to see that Avery didn’t turn into a macho, domineering man who demanded that Sydney give up what she loved to do, all in the name of keeping her safe. He has confidence in her abilities and this raised him up several notches in my opinion.

I liked that the connection between Avery and Sydney wasn’t fast tracked because it wouldn’t have fit with their back stories. It also made it more believable once they finally did act on the attraction. I also liked that A-Tac welcomed Sydney into the fold without being difficult or giving her a hard time. Even though I haven’t kept up with the series I was able to pick up this book and get right into the story with no problems. That being said, I definitely plan to go back and catch up on all that I missed with this team. If you like a fast paced story, strong heroine, ultimate “good guy”, and hot romance I definitely recommend this one!

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon
Dire Distraction
by Dee Davis
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Forever

Review: The Awakening: Aidan

Reviewed by Shelly

I started this one completely based on a recommendation. I’m happy to say that I’m going to be taking those recommendations from now on because this is a really good story, so much so that I’m hoping there’s a series coming because the premise is a good one (shameless plea #1).

Niles has built an entire world around shifters and their mates that resembles nothing (in a good way) that I’ve read in the past. This is story of meeting the one that’s your eternal love, not just in this life, but in the afterlife too.

Aidan is in a pickle because his fellow shifter and friend, Liam, is in serious trouble and the only one who can help is Jaylin Avgar. Half shifter Jaylin is one of the few psychiatrists who not only knows what ails Liam, she also knows what needs to be done – this calls for a house call. Once she arrives at the cabin to see about Liam she meets Aidan O’Connell and the sparks fly. Oh boy, do they ever! Aidan knows of the stories that tell what will happen once he meets his mate, but he’s not prepared for the roadblocks that Jaylin puts up about why she doesn’t want him. The fun’s about to start, so buckle up.

Aidan is the shiznit – plain and simple. He was cool, calm and collected and let me put this out there – he played nice with the imaginary retinas, which is all good. His likability was high considering he’s a guy with a not so great past, but he’s worked hard to make a change, and I appreciated him that much more for it. The relationships that he had with his fellow shifters spoke highly of the person that he is but it was the relationship that he wanted to have with Jaylin that made me just heads over heels for him. Aidan knew what he wanted and his willingness to go the extra mile to make her want the same thing was admirable, because there were a couple times when smacking Jaylin on the back of the head seemed appropriate.

Jaylin’s character was well written; she had a complexity and vulnerability that I could empathize with… up to a point. She’s stubborn as heck and is convinced that she knows what’s best, and although that’s admirable (kinda sorta) her unwillingness to allow Aidan to make his own choices got to me a little bit. Thank goodness that Aidan had the patience of Job to try and try and try some more with her.

Once this story takes off, it doesn’t take long before I realize that is not about this short life that we live but about whom you’re going to spend your eternity with. Because the world that Niles builds is focused more on the eternity that a bonded couple will share and the negative effects that can occur if the human female chooses not to bond. I’m completely fascinated to find out what happens to Liam – that’s a shameless plea (#2) for a sequel.

If you enjoy a different way of looking at forever love and wouldn’t mind a little smut with the tale – then I’d recommend that you pick up Aidan’s story.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Awakened: Aidan
by Abby Niles
Release Date: April 21, 2013
Publisher: Entangled

Review: Twisted

Reviewed by Jen
 

Rebecca Zanetti definitely knows a thing about creating anticipation! I have been excited for Maggie and Terrent’s story since I first saw them face off in Consumed.  I love that Maggie is this klutzy, amnesiac wolf who still manages to get the upper hand over a big bad enforcer like Terrent. I just can’t believe he has waited so long the pick things back up.

It’s been five years since these two have seen each other. And we find out right away, there is more to their attraction than we ever realized.  Terrence KNEW Maggie before she lost her memory.  Even better (or worse, depending on how you look at it) –they were in love.  Now, he is ready to put their relationship back on the front burner.  This, as she tries to infiltrate his pack, to sniff out who is behind some inoculations that were tampered with.

I thought it was cool that there was more depth to their connection, but I had some trouble with the idea of Terrent staying away from his great love for 10 years.  Yeah, his job is important and all, but that bothered me.  Setting that aside, I did enjoy the sexual tension and the hot sex between these two. I could do without the spanking/ dominating scene, but the other encounters were great.  There is also some pretty good banter.  Maggie is sassy and smart.  I like that she gives as good as she gets with Terrent. I also like that she isn’t powerless in their relationship, even though Terrent is so strong and alpha.

Over the course of the story, we learn about Maggie’s history –and Terrent’s too– which is kind of interesting. (I wonder if that is going to be incorporated more into the series.)  And we get a few Jase and Dage cameos, which I was happy about.  The ending takes a bit of an obvious route, but in the end, I was pretty satisfied with how it all turned out.    At first, I was disappointed this love story would not have a full length book, but I think it was served well as a novella.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Kensington via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Twisted
by Rebecca Zanetti
Release Date: June 20, 2013
Publisher: Kensington

Review: Officer Off Limits

Reviewed by Carrie

Tessa Bailey is becoming an auto-buy author for me. She writes such deliciously dirty talking alpha heroes that just make me sigh. This is the third book in the Line of Duty series and though loosely connected, each can be read as a stand alone.

Hot on the heels of a broken engagement, kindergarten teacher Story Brooks dashes across the country to be at the bedside of her estranged father, a New York cop. In the hospital she runs into her father’s protégé, Daniel Chase, and sparks fly. The only hitch in the plan is that dear old Dad forbids Daniel from hooking up with his daughter. This lasts all of a hot second and by the time Daniel takes Story home, he has her pinned up against a wall. She decides to use him for fun while she’s in town and as a way to get back on her feet after a long disappointing relationship, but both of them get much more than they bargained for.

Story is a cheeky girl who appears self-confident despite lingering insecurities from her ex and abandonment issues with her father. She is in a bit of an emotional block while coming to terms with the fact that she basically wasted the last 2 years on a guy that she really didn’t connect with and feeling like a failure. I liked that she stood up for herself and didn’t wallow.

Daniel was the one who threw me for a loop. I had expected a straight up cop hero but got a heart aching tortured hero – my favorite! Daniel grew up shuffling between foster homes, drifting without someone to give a crap about him until he joined the police force and was taken under the wing of Jack Brooks, Story’s father. Daniel matures in police work, but sticks to his womanizing ways because he doesn’t know how to care; he wasn’t ever taught. When Story tells Daniel she loves him and he says that’s the first time anyone had ever told him that, I wanted to rip my heart out and serve it on a platter to him. He just slowly unravels as this sensitive man underneath who survived a horrible childhood and ultimately just wants to belong to someone.

The sex between these two is insanely hot and all the dirty talk had me fanning myself. Besides the sex and romance, I loved all the banter in this book – Story and Daniel, Daniel and his boys, Story and her friend, Hayden. It really kicks up the fun and gives the main characters more depth. There is a slight twist to the story at about the 80% mark that was unexpected and felt a little unnecessary but that was really the only blemish on the book.

I really recommend this book for an unexpectedly sweet and sexy story! I can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: A-

*ARC Provided by Entangled

Click to purchase: Amazon
Officer Off Limits
by Tessa Bailey
Release Date: June 10, 2013
Publisher: Entangled