Review: Highland Wolf by Hannah Howell

Reviewed by Jen

I cannot remember the last time I struggled so hard to finish a book. My problems with Highland Wolf kicked off at the very beginning and then only intensified as the story continued. I did a little research after reading a review copy and discovered this is book 15 in a long running series and it is a reissue from 10 years ago. Interesting, but neither was the real root of my problem.

The simplest explanation is that I thought this book was boring. I liked the setup well enough. James was the laird of Dunncraig Keep but was framed for the death of his wife three years ago. Now he is posing as a woodcarver to get close to his enemy, reclaim his land, and rescue his young daughter. Meanwhile, Annora is the bastard cousin of that enemy. She takes care of the little girl to earn her keep and she has grown to love her. She hates her cousin and his awful men, but she wants to protect the little girl and will not leave her. [Read more…]

Review: Gravity by Dannika Dark

Reviewed by Jen

This book was… difficult to read. Generally speaking, I love angst in a romance. But I Hate the Big Secret trope. Granted, this is not a straight up romance. This is urban fantasy with romantic elements. But if we are being real, the big crux of this installment surrounds the relationship between Silver and Logan. And thanks to Tarek, Logan’s nemesis among the Chitah, things are not looking good for this couple.

I’ve said before how much I adore Logan and what a great pairing he and Silver make. But, in most books, when things look awesome, you know a giant bomb is about to drop. That bomb drops here. Basically, Tarek moves into a position of power among his people and he uses that as leverage to blackmail Silver. He can kill everyone she’s ever loved, essentially with impunity. So she must throw over Logan or watch him die along with everyone else who matters to her. [Read more…]

Review: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Reviewed by Jen

You can never go wrong with an Ilona Andrews book! I loved the initial trilogy in the Hidden Legacy series for a ton of reasons, but mostly because of the main couple, Rogan and Nevada. Sadly, their primary story is over, but the series lives on, switching focus to Nevada’s younger sister, Catalina. And this story serves as a changing of the guards, beginning first in Nevada’s POV, then switching to Catalina’s, and I’m happy to say I have no doubt the middle Baylor sister will deliver as a lead.

The story surrounds Rogan and Nevada’s wedding. Let me just say how much I loved his mom. Mrs. Rogan was an unexpected treat, with a cool backstory and a will of steel. She decides she wants a wedding that includes her entire family, which is no small feat. Half of them are money grubbers, nursing a serious sense of entitlement. We switch to Catalina’s perspective when one of them steals the family wedding tiara and she needs to figure out who did it before her sister walks down the aisle. [Read more…]

Review: Impulse by Dannika Dark

Reviewed by Jen

Dannika Dark continues to enthrall me with this third book in her Mageri series. This installment dips a little more into the romance than the first two did. Maybe because Silver is finally getting a chance to explore a real relationship with just one man. Let me just say again how much I adore Logan and the dynamic between these two. It is really the heart of this book, even though there is some action on the side.

Logan is slowly and methodically courting Silver now in the ways of his people. They do not take physical intimacy lightly. It is a commitment. He wants Silver for a lifetime. Meanwhile, though, the yearly gathering is about to take place. For the Chitah, it is an opportunity to look for a soulmate and Silver worries that she is keeping Logan from his destiny. [Read more…]

Joint Review: First Earl I See Tonight

Reviewed by Jen & Sara

Jen: This is my first book by Anna Bennett and though I had a few small issues, I found it an easy, pleasant read that I enjoyed overall.

The heroine, Fiona, is being blackmailed. Apparently, someone knows the truth of her sister’s parentage and will expose the secret unless Fiona pays him off. Before I get too far, I’ll say that my problems began here. I felt like it strained credibility that a wealthy family would raise a baby left on their doorstep and it took way too long to establish the particulars of the family dynamic. A) That they raised this orphan as their own. (I thought maybe she was the father’s bastard at first.) And B) the Mama in the story is actually Fiona’s step-mother and not even the woman who took the sister in.

Anyway, Fiona loves her sister so much that she is determined to pay the blackmailer, but the only way she can do it is by getting married and using part of her marriage portion. So she proposes to David Gray, the Earl of Ravenport. Gray is an impoverished nobleman who showed her kindness once. But he is skeptical about marriage since his betrothed dumped him. The woman took one look at his ramshackle estate and threw him over. He is determined to bring the property back to greatness, though, for the sake of his grandmother. [Read more…]

Review: Barbarous by Minerva Spencer

Reviewed by Jen

I will start by saying this book has really really good reviews on Goodreads. And I didn’t dislike it, but the sheer number of five star ratings has me wondering if I read the same book as everyone else.

I was excited about picking this up, despite the title which reminded me of a 1980’s bodice ripper. After all, the hero was scarred, with a delicious piratical eyepatch. I love a scarred hero. But Hugh wasn’t what I expected. This man was enslaved, tortured, and disfigured, but there was virtually no angst to be found.

As the story begins, Daphne is fighting off the lecherous advances of the man who raped her years ago. Her elderly husband is dead and there is no one to protect her now that Malcolm is after her fortune. And if she isn’t willing to cooperate, he’ll tell the world he’s the father of her children. It’s just as she fights back that her late husband’s nephew shows up. Everyone thought Hugh was dead, and he’s only returned due to a threat on Daphne’s life. [Read more…]

Review: The Highlander Who Protected Me by Vanessa Kelly

Reviewed by Jen

This new story from Vanessa Kelly is the first in her Clan Kendrick series, but it reads like it’s part of something bigger. I did a little bit of digging and discovered that the Kendrick family and the couple who led it were the main characters in The Highlander’s Princess Bride, the last in Kelly’s Improper Princesses trilogy. Obviously, I didn’t read that book and I enjoyed this one anyway. But it was very clear that there was a lot of story before this that came in another book, not just with the other couple but with the main hero and heroine here. So if that sort of thing bothers you, be warned. It niggled me a bit to have their past referenced, but the author does a good enough job of filling in the blanks so at least I wasn’t lost.

As the story begins, the hero is already half in love with Lady Ainsley. Royal was injured at Waterloo and has been kind of checked out on his life ever since. But with Ainsley, he feels alive again. Unfortunately, she is engaged to another man. Fast forward a year or so and you skip the course of events that transpired between them in the other book. Apparently, Royal had tried to kidnap Ainsley because he thought she would rather marry him. It did not go well. Now she is living with an aunt, too ruined by his kidnapping to get married. And he has no idea whether she considers him a friend or foe. But she wrote him a letter, so he takes a chance and goes to visit her. [Read more…]

Review: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh

Reviewed by Jen

Ho-lee cow. This book takes the Guild Hunter series in a bold new direction. Everything up until this point has been about building up Elena, Raphael, and their band of allies. Building their relationships… their power. But in this book, Elena is no longer becoming stronger. She is growing weaker, and it’s threatening to upend everything she’s worked for. Every day, she is regressing further and further into her humanity and Raphael grows in danger of losing what little humanity he’s gained through her love.

The Cascade is showing no signs of abating. This is the same cosmic event that has gifted Raphael with angelfire and filled him with new power. The same event that brought forth the Legion. The one that is threatening to turn Bluebell into an archangel before his time. Now it seems to have awoken the consciousness of an ancient who has been long asleep. She becomes a harbinger of the death looming over Elena’s shoulder. And our favorite hunter-born angel wants nothing to do with her prophecies. The only thing she is interested in –is protecting her family. [Read more…]

Review: Twist by Dannika Dark

Reviewed by Jen

OK. I am hooked. After this second installment in the Mageri series, I understand what all the fuss is about with this author. I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Confession number two: I was totally skeptical when I read the blurb and saw that there was yet another man coming into the heroine’s life. If you read my review on the first book, you would know there were already three guys who had the potential to be her love interest. And now, I am rooting for none of them. Because I have a new character named Logan Cross to ship.

As the story begins, Silver (Who I still think of as Zoe) is still training to understand what it means to be a mage. Justus is a good teacher, but he is very old-school and he keeps her pretty cloistered. She misses her best friend, though, and reaches out to Sunny behind his back. (Yay for the return of this character and cameo appearance by the cat. Their introduction, and later absence, in the first book kind of irritated me.) [Read more…]

Review: Duchess By Design by Maya Rodale

Reviewed by Jen

If you’re looking for a historical with a somewhat different flair, look no further. Duchess by Design features the requisite duke the title suggests, but it takes us out of Regency England to New York’s Gilded Age, while he searches for his bride. It’s fresh and fun, and it’s filled with the kind of feminism and empowerment that made me want to cheer out loud.

Brandon is the stereotypical impoverished duke, in need of an heiress to help fill the coffers of his estate. The well of women who fit the bill in London is running dry, so he travels to America to take advantage of the surfeit families with new money. It’s when he first arrives that he lays eyes on Adeline. Since she is well dressed and appears to be staying in his high-class hotel, he believes her to be the kind of lady he’s searching for. But that would be too easy. Adeline is actually a seamstress visiting a client at the establishment. [Read more…]