Review: Awaken the Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Reviewed by Jen

I always enjoy returning to the world of the Immortal Guardians. This eighth installment is an awesome gift for long time fans of the series. This is Stanislav‘s book. You read that right. One of the immortals believed to have been killed a few books back is actually alive! He has been buried alive for the past 2 1/2 years, ever since he was horribly wounded in the battle that killed his best friend, Yuri. He has been in and out of stasis this whole time and doesn’t remember who or what he is; he knows only loneliness and pain. Until Susan comes.

Susan is a Gifted One who moves in to the home above the basement where Stanislav is buried. He uses his empathetic gifts to prompt her to buy the house and eventually to dig him up. Susan is a telepath, so the two of them are able to communicate truths to each other that help get past what would be a mountain of fear and suspicion for most women. I mean, if most ladies were to dig up a body six feet underground and find him still living, at the very least they would call 911. Susan ends up letting Stan stay with her and nurses him back to health. [Read more…]

Joint Review: Rogue Souls by Chelsea Meuller

Reviewed by Sara and Jen

Sara: Rogue Souls is fantastic!

Jen: Agreed! No sophomore slump here. I really enjoyed this second installment of the Soul Charmer series. It picks up right on the heels of the first book, so if you have not read Borrowed Souls yet, you should start there. But if you read and liked that book as much as I did, you are in for a treat as Callie’s story continues.

Sara: Chelsea Mueller uses this second book to methodically reveal the many layers of this rich story. Callie and Derek are still working repossessing rented souls from people of Gem City until a teenager shows up dead and mutilated on the Soul Charmer’s doorstep. The murder unveils the criminal element of Gem City’s underground’s not so subtle unhappiness about the Soul Charmer’s monopoly on rented souls and reveals a surprising alliance between the Church and the Soul Charmer. [Read more…]

Review: The Allure of Attraction by Julia Kelly

Reviewed by Jen

I somehow missed that this was third book in a series when I picked this up, but it held up fine as a standalone. In fact, I would go so far as to say that despite the fact this is dubbed a Matchmaker of Edinburgh story, I’m skeptical about the matchmaker element at all, because though a matchmaker character existed, I don’t think she had anything to do with the hero and heroine getting together at all.

This is both an enemies to lovers and second chance at love story. Andrew and Lavina were teenage sweethearts who were deeply in love. Andrew went off to make a name and money for himself on the high seas, but was in a terrible accident and presumed dead. When he made it back home a year later, Lavina was married to someone else. Understandably, he was heartbroken, but he was also cruel, lashing out at her and turning his back on his old life, planning never to return to it again. [Read more…]

Review: The Varlet and the Voyeur by Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway

Reviewed by Sara

The Varlet and The Voyeur is book four in Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway’s Rugby Series. I really enjoyed the previous three books in the series and was stoked for this book to come out.

Will Moore is the strong silent member of the Irish Rugby team. He is seen as well-mannered and scandal free until a tabloid accuses Will of paying prostitutes to perform sex acts so that he can watch. The team is shocked and so are Will’s sponsors. Will is all about rules, ethics and preventing misunderstandings. He is also, definitely, a voyeur and, while never having paid prostitutes (he views this as unethical because prostitution can be exploitive), he has had a non-monetary arrangement with several married couples. So, to make things up to the team and regain his good name he hires Josey Kavanagh to be around him to keep him from finding another couple to watch. Will initially views, sweet, exuberant Josey as a little sister or a puppy. However, unexpected things can happen in close quarters and soon Will doesn’t see Josey as a little sister at all. To avoid misunderstandings he puts both rules and a deadline on their interactions, which (of course!) means misunderstandings abound. [Read more…]

Review: It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday

Reviewed by Caitlin

It Takes Two is the second book in Jenny Holiday’s “Bridesmaids Behaving Badly” series. I absolutely loved the first one – One and Only – and highly recommend it. It Takes Two tells Wendy Liu and Noah Denning’s story.

Wendy’s best friend, Jane Denning, is getting married and Wendy is trying as hard as she can to be happy for her. Whereas the bride in book 1 was a straight-up bridezilla in the traditional sense, Jane is almost more difficult to deal with. Every time Jane mentions how “low-key” she wants her wedding to be, I laughed. Girl, just be high-maintenance. It’s not any worse than high-maintenance-pretending-to-be-low-maintenance. [Read more…]

Review: Madfall by Grace Draven & Dana Marton

Reviewed by Jen

I’m such a fan of Grace Draven’s that any story with her name that crosses my path automatically finds its way into my TBR. This dragon-themed anthology features a reissue of a previously released novella, but it’s one I haven’t read.

Draconus tells the story of Leida, a woman who was once the favorite of a dragon lord. She ran away with a small piece of his treasure and as this novella begins, she has been located and dragged back to face him for her crimes. Magnus would be within his rights to kill her for stealing from him, but he would much rather keep her alive and in his grasp. It takes no time at all to realize these two still want each other desperately; his anger and her fear quickly give way to the desire and sexual undercurrent between them. There is a fair amount of on-page loving, and it’s pretty steamy. [Read more…]

Review: A Place in Your Heart by Kathy Otten

Reviewed by Jen

I am a big fan of historical romance, though usually my preference is for the Regency era or the occasional Highlander offering. But the blurb on this Civil War romance caught my attention. It centers on an Irish nurse named Gracie and the disagreeable surgeon who drives her crazy.

Charles constantly makes cracks about her tender sensibilities and insists that the medical ward is no place for a woman. What seems like arrogance, though, really masks a complete inability on his part to connect to other people. It is never explicitly stated, but I feel like he may have had mild Aspergers or fallen somewhere on the autism spectrum. He could not express his feelings; he did not understand humor. He was ostracized his entire life but just could not find his place. Except with medicine.

This is definitely an enemies to lovers story. Charles makes Gracie crazy, but over time she grows to appreciate his skill and realizes there is more to him than meets the eye. It doesn’t hurt that he excites her with his unbidden kisses. Still, she doesn’t feel like any man can ever replace her late husband. This is a slow burn romance for sure. (And a virgin hero, BTW.) [Read more…]

Review: Queen of Shadow by Suz deMello

Reviewed by Ronelle

Janus is a planet lacking both tilt and spin, and its Shadowlands divide the violently hot Lightside from the perpetually cold Darkside. Because of the world’s peculiarities, birthrates are low and indiscriminate mating encouraged.

Unless you’re the Queen of Shadow.

Audryn, made queen upon the deaths of her family members, has reached the time when she must either choose a King to rule with her or fail to bear an heir, casting not only her realm but all of Janus into chaos. As nobles in all three realms vie for her hand and favor, and though she trysts with many, none have struck her as the right choice. She briefly considers Kaldir, the Prince-Scientist sent by the Children of Light for a time… [Read more…]

Review: Stray Magic by Kelly Meding

Reviewed by Jen

I have been a fan of Kelly Meding since her Dreg City days. So when I saw she had a new urban fantasy series starting, I was super excited. And I am happy to report that Stray Magic didn’t disappoint.

The heroine, Shiloh, is a US marshal who works with a special paranormal unit. She is half human, half djinn, and as the story begins, she is just looking forward to a little R&R with her boyfriend, Vincent. Unfortunately, before they can get too cozy, she is called away on a case. A group of vampires has taken a trailer park hostage. The thing is, though, it is just an entry point into a larger mystery. Someone has been snatching vampires and werewolves… and master vampire Tennyson orchestrated the hostage situation it to get the help of Shiloh’s team in finding out who is behind the kidnappings and stopping them. This, as Shiloh’s own boss goes missing. She must work with Tennyson and the remainder of her team in a race to find the bad guy as it seems he is closing in on her at the same time. [Read more…]

Review: Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

Reviewed by Jen

Man, I really enjoyed this book. To be fair, Sarah McLean is an auto by author for me at this point. But that isn’t what made me love it… The story featured some of my favorite tropes, done to perfection, along with two main characters who I simply adored, both together and apart.

Felicity is a 27-year-old wallflower, who actually used to be a darling of the ton. I liked her in The Day of the Duchess, as one of the ladies who was “trying out” to be that hero’s new wife. Obviously, she was not meant to be the heroine of that tale. Still, her family is pushing hard for her to have a good match because they are in dire financial straits and they need a rich husband for her to solve their problems. Unfortunately, since she has fallen out of favor with those who were once her friends, it is a task that is growing increasingly difficult.

Those “friends” have actually grown quite cool. As the story begins they are teasing and pushing her too far, so far in fact that she declares that she is engaged to the duke who threw the ball they were attending. With that pronouncement, she unknowingly threw herself into a battle between two brothers with a deep grudge against each other. [Read more…]