Review: Archangel’s Shadows

Review: Archangel’s ShadowsArchangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter #7) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #7
Published by Penguin Group (USA) on October 28th 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 378
Goodreads
four-stars

The Story of Ash and Janvier

“She is my eternity.”

THE STORY: Ash and Janvier have a history. Ash has hunted Janvier down because she is a Guild Hunter and he is a vampire. Janvier, however, has always managed to resolve his problems such that Ash is never able to take him in. For several years the two have been involved in a strange courtship. They both know that they have feelings for one another. Ash, however, is determined to stay apart from Janvier because she knows that they have no future. When the two work together to track down a dangerous killer, the sexy flirtation gets more serious.

OPINION: I liked this story but I never connected with Ash in the way that I have the other women in this series. I really liked Janvier, but I just didn’t feel the connection with her. I also thought that the story was not as interesting as others in the series. I quickly figured out the villain and because I didn’t connect with Ash as much, I didn’t like this one as much. That being said, there hasn’t been a bad Guild Hunter novel and the continuing story of the other characters kept me interested in the novel until the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: I completely adore Naasir and can’t wait to find out who he tracks down as his mate.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this story because Janvier is a sexy Cajun who adores Ash. I just never connected with Ash as much so it is not one of my favorite stories in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL’S SHADOW is the seventh book in the Guild Hunter series. This book can be read apart from the other books in the series, but I recommend reading the novella ANGELS’ PAWN before reading this novel because it features Ash and Janvier when they first worked together.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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four-stars

Review: Appealed

Review: AppealedAppealed (The Legal Briefs, #3) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #3
Published by Gallery Books on January 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Second Chance Love is Spicy and Funny and Sometimes Sad

“Once upon a time she was my best friend. For a hot moment she was more. After that, she hated me. And then she was just . . . gone.”

FINAL DECISION: Managing to be funny and heartbreaking at the same time, APPEALED reminds us that we all make painful mistakes but that sometimes a second chance can be even better.

THE STORY: Brent Mason is a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. Now that all his partners are married, Brent is alone living the single life. At that moment, Kennedy Randolph re-enters his life. Brent and Kennedy grew up together. Friends, then almost lovers, then enemies, then nothing. An amputee at a young age, Brent has learned to keep his distance from people, but he always had a connection with Kennedy. Kennedy is now a prosecutor who arrives in D.C. just in time to be opposing counsel on Brent’s new case. Battling in each on the case and also the past, the two get a second chance to find the connection that has always existed between them even despite a 14 year absence.

OPINION: I read the three books in this series quickly because I found them unique, funny and yet incredibly emotional. What I loved about his book is that Brent has always loved Kennedy but he didn’t do the things he needed to do to keep her. Youth, immaturity worked to drive Brent and Kennedy apart and yet there has always been something to connect them.

Sometimes I think it is strange to read a book that consists only of the male point of view and yet I never failed to understand Kennedy’s perspective. As with the other books in the series, giving the hero’s point of view prevents him from appearing to be a jerk. I liked that I could understand his confusion, his pain and his motivation. Even as he sometimes does stupid things, I can appreciate that he is human and not being malicious. For example, at one point in the book he makes an ultimatum that Kennedy rejects. Brent ends up miserable and ends up conceding entirely to Kennedy’s viewpoint because he was wrong. I liked him better because I understood what drove him to make the mistake and then his ability to apologize and concede entirely. That makes him a strong compassionate man who I liked more because of his imperfections.

The characters feel human, real, fallible but their relationship is infused with joy. The battle of wills is good natured between these two. I like that their relationship always appears a connection of equals. Their courtroom fights were especially ones that I liked because I appreciate a clever legal tactic.

One of the best things about this series overall is how likeable the characters are. In addition, each of the stories is unique and doesn’t follow a standard formula. The challenges each couple faces is unique and yet the entire series is infused a hopeful attitude.

The book has a lightness, a freshness and an effervescence that compelled me to rush through this book. My biggest disappointment was that there isn’t a next book. I especially found the voice of this book, the writing and tone to be attractive. I’m going to try another series by this author to see if I enjoy it as well because this series was fantastic.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book includes an extended epilogue that will please those who have read the entire series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: APPEALED is the third book in the Legal Briefs series. It can be read as a standalone but also gives glimpses of series favorites for fans to enjoy.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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four-half-stars

Review: A Bollywood Affair

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Bollywood AffairA Bollywood Affair (Bollywood) by Sonali Dev
Series: Bollywood #1
Published by Kensington on October 28th 2014
Pages: 294
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Just Draws the Reader In

A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR is a great twist on the rake and the virgin story. Here, this contemporary novel is grounded in the diverse and complex Indian culture. Set on the edges of many divides in that culture, this is not only a glimpse into the complexity of cultures but it demonstrates that love can cross many boundaries.

THE STORY: Mili Rathod was married at the age of four to a boy in her village in India. For twenty years, Mili has kept her vows and “all Mili wanted was to be a good wife.” Her pursuit of that goal led her far from her village. She obtained an education and has come to the United States to pursue further education. She is working hard to make herself worthy of her husband — who she has not seen since her wedding.

The only problem for Mili is that her husband was not aware that they were still married (because they were underage, the marriage was supposed to be annulled). He has married another woman and is expecting a child. When he finds out about the marriage to Mili, he sends his younger brother, Samir Rathod to convince Mili to agree to an annulment.

Samir is a director and screenwriter and has a “love” life that consists of him walking away from women when they get too close. He is scarred by the history of his parents. Half-American, Samir was abandoned by his mother and has commitment issues as a result. In meeting Mili, Samir is struck by the contrast of his expectations and the reality of Mili. He is a caretaker and Mili brings joy to his life. Samir, however, fails to tell Mili who is actually is and thus the conflict exists over the secrets that each is keeping from the other.

OPINION: I loved Samir in this book. For a guy who seems so cynical, he quickly becomes such a caretaker to Mili that he is almost sweet. As the reader is drawn further into his story, the contradictions of Samir become more obvious and understandable. He is definitely the rake who hides his goodness and vulnerability.

Mili is such an interesting character. She definitely comes from her culture and yet she has transcended the small town she comes from without changing her essential nature. I love that she is committed to her marriage and yet at the same time has used it as an excuse to open doors that otherwise would have been closed to her.

I also appreciated how this book opened a window into a complex Indian culture. There are divisions between the older generation and the younger generation, the city dwellers and the rural people. In addition, there is the American versus Indian conflict. All of these divisions are treated with respect and I loved the fact that all of this is presented in a matter of fact manner.

The emotional connection between these characters is wonderful. I loved how their relationship progresses from friendship to love. Samir’s failure to be truthful to Mili has bad consequences and the deep emotional pain that Mili experiences is moving. I truly believed in these characters. They were memorable and really good people.

WORTH MENTIONING: I tried this book on the recommendation of the author Nalini Singh and I am really glad I did.

FINAL DECISION: I recommend this book because I think it is deeply emotional and has a unique story to tell about two really likeable people.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Wild Things

Review: Wild ThingsWild Things (Shifters Unbound #7.75) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #7.75
Published by JA / AG Publishing on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 220
Goodreads
four-stars

Sweet Romance But It’s The Shifter Info Revealed that Is Really Good

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable with a less experienced Shifter male and a woman who has tried to find love in the wrong places. This novella expands readers knowledge of what is going on in the Shifter universe. Sweet and fun.

THE STORY: Mason McNaughton is a wolf shifter (youngest brother of Broderick from BAD WOLF) is tired of the feral feline living in his house driving him crazy and sometimes trying to kill him. He decides to help search for a cure which leads him to a psychic in New Orleans Jasmine Samuelson. Mason doesn’t believe in psychics but Jasmine is known for finding people and Mason needs her help to find the elusive Guardian healers who might be able to turn the feral back from his madness. Jasmine finds Mason sexy but she has had bad luck with men including a shifter who broke her heart before.

OPINION: This romance is sweeter and less intense than others in the series as this short novella has a lot of plot to get in. That being said, I enjoyed seeing Mason who is somewhat younger and more inexperienced than the typical Shifter in this series fall in love. Mason is really sweet even as he says that Shifters are wild and dangerous. The connection between Jasmine and Mason is quick and there is little conflict between them except for Jasmine’s wariness because of her past. I enjoyed this book especially because of the return glimpses of some of my favorite Shifters. This is not that deep of a book, but it is enjoyable and expands the Shifter universe.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lots of cameos from series favorites! There are lots of cubs arriving soon!

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILD THINGS is book number 7.75 in the Shifters Unbound series. It can be read as a standalone EXCEPT a reader has to understand a bit about the Shifters because it is not explained here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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four-stars

Review: Sustained

Review: SustainedSustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #2
Published by Gallery Books on August 25th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 267
Goodreads
four-half-stars

I Love This Male Point of View Romance

“A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.”

FINAL DECISION: I love how this book is told from the hero’s point of view. The true journey to be made here is the hero’s and I like that I could understand and emphasize with him instead of thinking him a total jerk.

THE STORY: Jake Becker is a criminal defense attorney who “likes things a certain way”. He is disciplined and some say even cold, but in him lurks a reformed bad boy. When Jake’s freewheeling single life is abruptly halted he meets Chelsea McQuaid — a woman in need. Chelsea is raising her six orphaned nieces and nephews and one might expect that a large family has lots of crazy happenings. In fact, Jake and Chelsea meets when her nephew attempts to lift Jake’s wallet. Despite Jake’s desire to keep himself detached, he can’t help but come to the rescue of the McQuaid family again and again. Finding himself needed, Jake’s insecurities begin to reveal themselves and make the budding relationship between Chelsea and himself much more difficult.

OPINION: I loved the total baffling of Jake. He keeps getting pulled into Chelsea’s life and can’t figure out what is motivating him. I also loved how he falls in love not only with Chelsea but also each of the kids. For a book where six kids are a big part of the story, their characters and their connection with Jake are vital. He just feels like a good man who was looking for his place in the world.

I think it is essential to the story that it is told from Jake’s point of view. The book chronicles his journey and he is so often a jerk that only knowing his confusion and pain makes him a good hero. The book is a great combination of humor and deep emotional connection that feels fresh and keeps me wanting to read more of the series.

I really like how the characters in this series are good people with reasonable motivations. They make mistakes — especially the men — but they feel real and the kind of mistakes that can be corrected.

Lively, sexy and fun, I really enjoyed this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of the series will be pleased to see significant appearances by the hero and heroine of OVERRULED.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SUSTAINED is the second book in the Legal Briefs series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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four-half-stars

Review: Overruled

Review: OverruledSustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #1
Published by Gallery Books on August 25th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 267
Goodreads
four-half-stars

So Many Reasons I Shouldn’t Like This Book, and Yet I Did

“You’re so stubborn — you’re so stuck in what you think is supposed to be, that you’re missin’ what’s right in front of you.”

FINAL DECISION: I book I put off reading because it has two things I really tend to dislike lawyers and a hero who believes he is in love with someone else — yet somehow I found this book compelling. I couldn’t stop reading it. My only complaint is that I wanted more.

THE STORY: Stanton Shaw, a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. is known as “The Jury Charmer” because he is a man it is hard to say no to. He has a plan for his life. Although he lives in D.C. his heart is in MIssissippi with his childhood sweetheart and their daughter. The two had a child as teenagers and although they were in love, they kept postponing their life together. Stanton, however, believes that they have a special and immutable connection until he gets an invitation to her wedding to someone else. Stanton is determined to go home and convince her to call of the wedding. He decides to bring along with him Sofia Santos who is also an attorney at the firm he works with. Stanton and Sofia have been friends with benefits neither wanting a more serious relationship. While Stanton works to recover his past love, he can’t seem to forget the woman of the moment.

OPINION: I’ve had this series on my radar for a while. People keep recommending the books to me, but I’m generally not a fan of lawyer books. Being an attorney myself, I often don’t find the tone and voice of the book to fit in my experience. Finally, this book had been recommended one too many times and I was looking for something new to read and I started this book with low expectations. And then I couldn’t put it down.

I was attracted by the tone of the book. The book begins with the first person narrative of the hero and then switches between the first person of Stanton and Sofia. This book is really Stanton’s story because it is his continued expectation of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart that animates the story. Although I am generally not a fan of stories where one of the characters believes themselves in love with someone else, I thought it worked here because of the first person narrative. Having access to Stanton’s thoughts gives readers an understanding of how he actually feels for Sofia and for the woman he insists he loves. I just had to smile at his blindness of his own true feelings. Stanton also is incredibly honest in recognizing his mistakes by the time he acknowledges he loves Sofia that I forgave him for his stupidity throughout the book.

This book felt deep and emotional and I felt so connected to the characters and felt their connection to one another. The book tackles difficult issues of first love and coming to terms with the loss of young dreams and I ended up loving it.

I give high marks to a book that was much more than what I thought when I read the description.

WORTH MENTIONING: Warning that the hero spends almost the entire book believing he is in love with his childhood sweetheart.

CONNECTED BOOKS: OVERRULED is the first book in the Legal Briefs series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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four-half-stars

Review: White Lies

White Lies
White Lies by Linda Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who Is This Man?

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable story of a woman who falls in love with a man thought to be her ex-husband but then she isn’t quite sure that he is.

THE STORY: Jay Granger’s life changes when the FBI comes to her door to tell her that her ex-husband has been in a terrible accident and that they need her to come identify him. Although they have been divorced for five years, Jay cannot abandon Steve Crossfield. She is drawn to the man in the hospital bed but when he wakes he seems so different from the man she remembers loving before.

OPINION: This story is not complicated and I figured out quickly what was happening, but the story is well executed and the characters are so interesting that I was engaged throughout the story. This book was originally published as a category romance and thus lacks some of the sophistication and complexity allowed in a longer novel. I liked these characters who fell in love without really knowing the truth about what happened to Steve. The connection of these characters is visceral — a recognition of spirits. The real mystery in this one is how the truth about Steve’s actions and identity will be revealed and what that will make for the hero and heroine. A fun (not funny) read.

WORTH MENTIONING: Kell Sabin.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHITE LIES is the fourth book in the loosely connected Rescues series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

Review: Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker
Heartbreaker by Linda Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pleasant Romantic Suspense Originally Published as a Category Romance

FINAL DECISION: This is an enjoyable read which hints at the more compelling Howard books. For me, the book lacks deep emotional connection with the characters and thus is more forgettable.

THE STORY: MIchelle Cabot inherited her father’s ranch and found that he was deeply in debt. Recovering from an abusive marriage, Michelle is determined to prove herself by working the ranch — even without help. When she discovers that her father had taken a large loan from a neighbor, she is nervous about meeting him again. John Rafferty is the man that Michelle had a crush on years ago and she ran from the intense attraction between them. John has wanted Michelle for years even as he thought her a useless ornament. Now he considers making her his mistress in order to give her an easier life but MIchelle is determined to prove herself a strong woman.

OPINION: I typically really like Howard’s older category romances. They are where I first discovered her before she began writing her popular romantic suspense novels. HEARTBREAKER is a good book but has never had the depth and interest of the other books in this series or her Mackenzie books. I didn’t feel as much connection with or between the main characters and this left me somewhat detached from the story. Not a waste of time read, but not necessarily one I love to revisit.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is one of the earlier books dealing with domestic abuse.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEARTBREAKER is the third book in the Rescues series. It can be read as a standalone as it only has a small connection to the second book in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

Review: Splendid

Splendid
Splendid by Julia Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An Early Book By Quinn is Good But Not Up to Her Later Standard

FINAL DECISION: A book that feels more formulaic than a normal Julia Quinn novel, SPLENDID has some madcap moments but after a while the number of dramas that had to be negotiated wore on the story.

THE STORY: Emma Dunster is an American heiress who intends on enjoying her season in London with no plans for marriage because she wants to return to America, marry and run her father’s business. Masquerading as a kitchen maid, she goes out on an errand and ends up saving the nephew of Alexander Ridgely, Duke of Ashbourne, a notorious rake. Furious when he finds out her deception, Emma and Alexander begin a dance where neither wants marriage but yet they cannot stay away from one another.

OPINION: This book begins well. The twist of having Alexander believe that Emma is a kitchen maid and then discovering that she is actually an heiress is funny and brings the characters immediately together in an intimate fashion. Emma shows herself to be independent and determined as she wants to use her business sense. Alexander is a bit of a jerk about the whole thing. The two cannot seem to stop being attracted to one another despite each believing that they want something else.

This book just has too many dramatic moments and twists and turns to drive the story forward instead of fostering connection between the characters. For me that means that while I like the book, I found it somewhat forgettable. It’s one of those books that I read, enjoyed but won’t think to pick up again.

The good news is that Quinn has gone on to write some amazing books.

WORTH MENTIONING: This was Julia Quinn’s first book and at times it shows.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SPLENDID is the first book in the Splendid or Blydon Trilogy.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

Review: Come Away with Me

Come Away with Me
Come Away with Me by Kristen Proby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pleasure to Read with Likeable Characters and a Straightforward Romance

FINAL DECISION: This book is light and relatively uncomplicated. Both main characters have some baggage but once they find one another the two don’t have any serious challenges to their relationship. But I enjoyed this light story which feels fresh in the way it is told with likeable characters.

THE STORY: Natalie Conner, a photographer, is accosted on the beach one morning while taking photos. An angry and gorgeous man is incensed thinking that she is taking photos of him. Luke Williams believes that Natalie is lying when she tells him that she isn’t taking photos of him and that she has no idea who he is. When he realizes that she is telling the truth, he is relieved to be treated as a normal person and begins a relationship with Natalie. But he is keeping secrets from her and the truth will come out.

OPINION: This book was recommended to me as a light contemporary and I got exactly as it was billed to me. Although both Natalie and Luke have baggage from their pasts, the truth is that once they find one another, their problems never seem to bad that they won’t be able to overcome them. This book is more plot that internal emotional angsty romance. I enjoyed the twists of the story and the characters are so likeable that the journey is fun and flirty.

The story is lovely if not deep. I enjoy having books that aren’t all deep and dark (even as I love those). By the time I was finished, I wanted to jump into the next book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book introduces characters who are featured in future books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: COME AWAY WITH ME is the first book in the With Me in Seattle series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.