Review: Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

Reviewed by Jen

The Mercy Thompson series is one which continues to be a winner for me. Mercy is such a fantastic heroine. I love how her gifts keep evolving, while she still considers herself one of the weakest supernaturals in any given room. But what she may lack in brute strength, she makes up for in smarts and her ability to read a situation. This installment is no exception.

In many of the past books, the storyline surrounded a Mercy-in-Danger plot. That’s not so here. There is danger, to be sure, but Mercy is no more at risk than the pack as a whole.

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Joint Review: American Witch by Thea Harrison

Reviewed by Jen & Sara

Jen: I am such a big fan of Thea Harrison and her Elder Races series. This is the first book in a new trilogy set in that world and even if you’ve never read one of Harrison’s books before, you can easily jump in here. As made obvious by the title, this trilogy focuses on witches, particularly one who is just coming into her powers.

First of all, I love that Molly is an older heroine. She’s around 40 years old and her magical awakening comes due to a major disaster in her life rather than reaching a particular age. That being said, at the beginning, she is still a somewhat naïve and sheltered woman. She has essentially built her life around being the perfect wife for her husband and that made her a little difficult for me to relate to. I mean, I know women like this exist in the world, but in some ways, she was as much of a clean slate as a 21-year-old coming into her power.

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Review: Sinful Seduction by Ann Christopher

Reviewed by Jen

This is my first book by Ann Christopher and it pulled me in from the very start. Alessandro Davies is a broken man after coming home from the war that killed his twin brother Tony. He lives in his family’s sweeping mansion in the Hamptons with his estranged teenage son and his disabled war buddy. The last thing he wants is a visit from Tony’s ex fiancé.

Skylar has tried to contact Sandro many times to discuss the generous bequeath of half of the family home from Tony in his will. In fact, she only wants to give it back to the family, but Sandro won’t take her calls.  That’s what drives her to venture to his home in the middle of the night during a storm. A storm that drops a tree on her car and ends up trapping her on the property while she recovers.

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Review: Grave Destiny by Kalayna Price

Reviewed by Jen

I really enjoyed this latest installment in the Alex Craft series. Even though there is what feels like an eternity between releases of these books, I am always able to jump back in so seamlessly and fall into the world. Alas, we do not see much of Death this time around. You can thank the events of the last book for that.  Instead, this centers on an adventure Alex takes with Dugan, prince of the Shadow realm, and Falin, the Winter queen’s knight.

The story begins with Dugan visiting Tongues for the Dead, in need of help from Alex to solve the mysterious death of one of his people. Falin gets involved right away, as soon as he catches word that Dugan is in the human realm. Turns out someone is dead from both Dugan’s court and Falin’s. And the bodies were found in the Winter court. Likely, it was set up as a frame job.

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Review: The Infamous Duchess by Sophie Barnes

Reviewed by Jen

This is the fourth book in Sophie Barnes’ Diamonds in the Rough series and it centers on Viola Cartright, the mysterious patroness of St. Agatha’s hospital. Though we have met her several times over the course of the series, if you jump in here, you will be fine reading this as a standalone.

Viola is a young widow trying to keep a low profile. The ton kind of gives her the side-eye because she married a man old enough to be her father, or maybe even her grandfather, and he left her everything when he died the very next day. All she wants to do is run her hospital and make a difference, but when her grown son-in-law comes home and wants to fight her for his father’s fortune, everything starts to fall apart.

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Review: Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins

Reviewed by Jen

I’ve really struggled with how to write this review. Embarrassingly, this is my first read from Beverly Jenkins, who is a much beloved and prolific author of African-American romance. And I absolutely love how she has created such a wide backlist of love stories, all focused on men and women of color.

It is awesome to see such an underrepresented culture explored in historical romance. Specifically, this book takes us to California in the late 1800s. The heroine, Maria, is a light-skinned black woman who is escaping a terrible life and abusive mother in Philadelphia. The hero is a black man who runs a successful ranch with his Spanish stepmother. The book is filled with fascinating tidbits of information about historical figures and I really got a taste of what life was like in the California of this time.

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Review: Wild Country by Anne Bishop

Reviewed by Jen

When Ann Bishop kicked off The Others series, I was so blown away by how much I loved Written in Red. As new installments published, I enjoyed some more than others. Generally, the earlier books were my favorites. While I think I liked this book more than I expected, it didn’t enthrall me quite so much as this series is capable of. Don’t get me wrong. It was good. It was just missing the kind of connection you get from a strong central main character.

I would say all of the Bishop of books I have read were ensemble pieces. But, I still felt like I knew who the story was mainly about. Generally, the first part of the series was about Meg. Lake Silence was primarily about Vicki. Here, I couldn’t tell you who the lead is. Maybe Jana (?) the new police officer who has come to the town of Bennett to serve under a wolf Sheriff. She’s probably the closest, although her POV scenes only make up a fraction of the book. The characters are interesting and eclectic, and they all weave together for a cohesive story, but I was missing some of my emotional investment.

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Review: Circle of the Moon by Faith Hunter

Reviewed by Jen

Faith Hunter is such a master craftsman of urban fantasy. All of her books in her Jane Yellowrock/Soulwood world are just so dense and layered… in plot, in backstory, and in the characters. The Soulwood books are the spinoffs and if you have not read Dark Queen, the latest Yellowrock book, be prepared for some spoilers because there is some overlap.

Nell, our heroine, has grown so much over the course of this series. She started off as this— I don’t want to say backward, but off-grid woman who has never known I truly modern life. She grew up as part of a polygamist cult and lives in the middle of the woods in a house off the power and water lines. But while she may never truly be free of her upbringing and the impact of its effects, she has now embraced a lot of the modern world in her job as a probationary Psy-Led agent. Not only that, she is bringing her sister, Mud, along with her. Nell is working towards adopting the 12-year-old, but has to make a few more changes to her lifestyle in order for that to happen.

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Review: Storm the Castle by Jolie Vines

Reviewed by Jen

I’m so incredibly proud and excited for Jolie Vines as her first book goes out into the world. As a romance lover, I’ve read tons of books with a Highland hero, but interestingly, almost all of them were historical or involved time travel. This is my first contemporary Highlander and Callum gave me everything I wanted.

As the story begins, Mathilda is contemplating marriage to her father’s business partner. Not because she loves him—she barely knows the man. But she desperately wants to build a home where she can invite her sister to come live, and her father would only allow it if she were married and could provide a stable environment. Her younger sister has a terrible home-life with her parents and Mathilda feels she is the only one who can save her. The would-be fiancé needs her as much as she needs him, to help him with some personal PR.

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Review: If I Ever by SE Jakes

Reviewed by Jen

What the hell did I just read? I honestly don’t know.

I wanted to enjoy this book. I really did. In fact, I finally got around to reading book 3 recently just so I could be ready to see how Tom and Prophet’s story finally ended. I’m sad to say, it culminated in a convoluted violent and sexually aggressive mess.

These books have always been heavy in the sex department. Tom and Prophet always connected best when they did it physically — and usually with a little bit of kink. But I felt like all this book was, was action and sex.

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