Review: Napoleon’s Rosebud by Humphry Knipe

Reviewed by Ronelle

After his defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte and his entourage are exiled to the tiny island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. It is the last place on earth he wants to be, but he’s determined he won’t be there long. His mind is already working on ways to secure his freedom.

Nineteen-year-old Charlotte Knipe is dubbed Rosebud by Napoleon on the night of their meeting. He sees in her exactly what he’s looking for—a conduit to the civilized world and hopefully his freedom as well. It isn’t long before he’s recruited her and her fiancé in London to help him provide misinformation to the British government. [Read more…]

Review: Chest of Bone by Vicki Stiefel

Reviewed by Ronelle

While on leave from her position with the FBI, empath Clea Reese stumbles upon the scene of her mentor’s murder. Dave Cochran holds on just long enough to give Clea some final—and cryptic—instructions. Now, she must team up with the secretive James Larrimer to hunt her mentor’s killer and untangle Dave’s final words. What is the Chest of Bone and why did Dave want her to find it? [Read more…]

Review: Bluebeard’s Curse by Regine Abel

Reviewed by Ronelle

King Eric Thorsen of the Rathlin Islands, known as Bluebeard, has been widowed once more. Though his last wife resisted the lure of the curse for six months, she eventually succumbed and Eric must marry again. Will any woman survive to truly become his queen?

Astrid Halvar will not see her family become destitute, no matter the cost. In defiance of her father’s wishes, she attends the king’s ball with a number of other eligible maidens. She is the least among them in wealth and power, so it is an utter shock when the king chooses her. Will she be able to succeed where so many other women have failed? [Read more…]

Review: Rosinanti by Kevin Kessler

Reviewed by Ronelle

Aleksandra, Seraphina, Valantean, and Kayden live in a world where the Rosinanti Dragons are nothing but legend. Humans rule the world of Terra and have done so peacefully for at least a millennia. But ancient evil has begun to stir once more, and for Val and Kayden, those old legends may hold the key to their past. As the awful truth of the Rosinanti’s supposed extinction comes to light, the four must embark upon a mission to maintain order and light.

Lifelong friends will face down the resurgence of the Rosinanti legacy, combat the greatest threat their world has ever known, and choose more personal sides amongst themselves. [Read more…]

Review: Wild Wicked Scot by Julia London

Reviewed by Ronelle

Born into the lap of English luxury, Margot Armstrong was raised for balls, soirees, and sophisticated society. Her future would be one of wealth and privilege… or so she thinks, until her father forces her into marriage with Baron Arran McKenzie, who then carts her off to the Scottish Highlands. Unable to cope, she flees her husband and returns to her father’s estate in England. [Read more…]

Review: Dark Alley by D.S. Wrights

Reviewed by Ronelle

Alice is in her thirties, single, and determined to chase her own sexual pleasures. While out with friends one night, she’s given a card inviting her to the mysterious Dark Alley, and although she’s warned against going, she can’t resist. What follows are encounters that fulfill her wildest fantasies…and then some. [Read more…]

Review: No Shit, There I Was by lots of people

Reviewed by Ronelle

A fair number of crazy-but-usually-worth-hearing stories have started with “no shit, there I was…”. So someone got the bright idea to turn a group of speculative fiction authors loose on the phrase and this collection was the result. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole ‘speculative fiction’ thing, but I decided to give it a try and added it to my review list.

*several months later*

So no shit, there I was, sitting in a coffee shop, laughing my ass off and garnering weird looks from the other patrons. I might have snorted coffee up my nose at one point and a couple older ladies even moved to a table further away from me. If anyone who was in the Four Winds Coffee Shop in early January 2017 is reading this, you have my apologies for disturbing your java time.
[Read more…]

Review: With the Dawn by Cassandra Sky West

Reviewed by Ronelle

A witch, a vampire, and a witch walk into a bar… except there’s no bar, just a trio of unlikely friends determined to stay alive.

Alexi Creed wakes up in a morgue drawer, with no knowledge of who she is, where she’s being held, or even why. Only quick thinking and newfound vampiric reflexes allow her to avoid an unpleasant death. But even as she flees the nightclub under which she’d been held, she’s jumping out of the frying pan and straight into a fire that could easily consume her.

Savanna Grace is on the run from another witch bent on her destruction. Worse yet, the other witch is her own mother and the woman is pulling out all the stops to have her revenge. Savanna has been running for far too long and her gift of precognition tells her that Alexi is her only hope of survival. She can’t run anymore. [Read more…]

Joint Review: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

winter-haloReviewed by Jen & Ronelle

Ronelle: After reading the first book in the Outcast series, I picked up the audiobook version of Winter Halo and loved it as much as I loved City of Light. Keri Arthur penned a fascinating continuation of Tiger’s story, and Mia Barron did an excellent job bringing it to life. Winter Halo is one of those books that reminded me why sci-fi and fantasy are so often grouped together and it’s the best of both worlds, with dystopian romance thrown in for good measure.

Jen: It took me a little while to get back in the groove with this series, though to be fair, I didn’t really feel all that connected to the characters in the first book either. I did get more interested as I kept reading and the story built, only for it come to an abrupt end. Basically, the rhythm of the story progression felt… off… and I’d imagine it would be a substantial challenge for a new reader to jump in to the series here. [Read more…]

Ronelle’s Favorites of 2016

I can’t believe we’re already looking at the closing act of 2016! It feels like just yesterday I was lamenting my lack of suitable swimwear and then the literal yesterday, I was dressing up as The Grim Reaper and escorting a Witch Doctor, Mavis from Hotel Transylvania, and a little Rainbow Dash around the neighborhood to collect candy. As for books, it’s been an…interesting year; I joined the ladies here at Red Hot Books, published my first novel, started my own blog, and got a whole new perspective on the weirdness that exists in the literary world. I found some new authors I’ll be following and read some passages that were just downright strange.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my Favorites of 2016:

Master of Crows by Grace Draven
Adult Gothic/Dark Fantasy Romance

No, this isn’t a new release and no, I didn’t just read it for the first time this year, so why is it on this list? Because if it were a human man, I’d put my husband out on his ass and marry it in a heartbeat!

I love everything about this book and have lost track of how many times I’ve reread it. Ms. Draven has penned an epically beautiful dark fantasy romance that has all the elements of a masterpiece. Silhara, Martise, and Gurn were complex and had the depth of actual, real-life people. The world jumped off the page and the plot had me hooked from the jump. Silhara and Martise have become one of my favorite fantasy couples of all time.

Click to purchase: Master of Crows

Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson
Adult Paranormal Fantasy Romance

I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance. A little slow to start and occasionally bogged down in world-building, what emerged was an excellent start to what I hope will become a favorite series. I loved Ellysetta’s strength and determination to have what her heart desired, in spite of all the cultural obstacles. As for Rain Tairen Soul, I don’t normally go for the tortured, broody type, but he did it so well and his character evolved so much that I couldn’t help but love him.

And the scene towards the end? *fans self* Not intended for young audiences and reader discretion is advised.

Click to purchase: Lord of the Fading Lands

Fletcher by AJ Adams
Adult Dark Erotic Fantasy

Here is another one I’d leave my husband for if it were a person. Ware and Lind set fire to the pages from their very first meeting and I simply could not put this down to do functional adult things, like eating, sleeping, and interacting with others. (Apparently, “Go ‘way, reading!” doesn’t count as functional interaction.) This is very much erotica rather than romance, but the plot was solid and just as enthralling as the sex—and that isn’t something I can normally say about the genre.

Read it. Right now. No, seriously, put down whatever you’re doing and get this book. You can thank me later in the comment section.

Click to purchase: Fletcher

Her Demigod Complex by Abigail Owen
Adult Paranormal Romance (Shifters)

When I saw the first line of the description “In love with her demigod billionaire boss”, I was pretty sure I was about to read some 50 Shades of Grey knock-off. I went into this expecting plotless, mindless, cotton-candy fluff, but since I was looking for a literary palate-cleanser before going on to something more serious, I figured that might not be so bad.

Wow, did I get so much more than I was anticipating!

There was a surprising amount of plot here and the characters were quite likable. So much so, that other books in this collection are on my TBR list.

Click to purchase: Her Demigod Complex

Red Winter by Annette Marie
YA Fantasy Romance

This is one of those books that will leave you breathless, hopeful, and completely devastated in the best possible way. You’ll be yelling at the author to just “hurry up and finish the next one already!” so you can find out what happens to Shiro and Emi. Or at least, I did. This book ripped my heart out at times, but then somehow managed to kiss it better and put it back. I do not usually enjoy YA, but Red Winter is very much an exception to that rule. I highly recommend this to lovers of contemporary romance with a realistic fantasy setting (you think that’s an oxymoron now, but just wait). Actually, scratch that. I just highly recommend it.

Click to purchase: Red Winter

Here are a few more ‘favorites’:
Favorite squicky line: “Today, Dugald’s cock was like a tasty roasted sausage, hot and thick in her mouth. Would it steam if she withdrew?” –Alice Derwent’s ponderings in Desire in Tartan
Favorite squee line: “Lie with me, Martise.” –Silhara of Neith
Favorite expletive by a character: Pretty much everything out of Lind’s mouth, but “Go lick Tyr’s hairy balls, fat-gut!” stands out.
Favorite couple: This one was a tie between Silhara/Martise and Ware/Lind. Both have chemistry that’s almost electric and the sparks fly from their first meetings.
Favorite cover: Challenging Destiny by Cherie Colver