Review: Loving the Secret Billionaire

Review: Loving the Secret BillionaireLoving the Secret Billionaire (Love at Last Book 1) by Adriana Anders
Series: Love at Last #1
on April 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
one-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Disappointing and banal after a great description of what the setup for the story is.

THE STORY: Veronica Cruz is a teacher turned political candidate when she wants to be active in her community. A big underdog, Veronica is out campaigning door to door when she arrives at a house with a mysterious occupant. Zach is a reclusive man. Blind, Zach lives in his own world. But Veronica touches something in him and begins to bring him out. But Zach has lots of secrets including why he has secluded himself.

OPINION: This novella was disappointing on just about every level. The connection between the hero and heroine was boring and didn’t interest me at all. The reasons for Zach being secluded were not persuasive. After we learn the lengths that Zach would go to help Veronica’s candidacy and which she found objectionable, she was still willing to continue on. A person so concerned with the morality as her would have withdrawn herself. Instead, she basically benefits from what he did and allows herself to claim she is not tainted by what he did — but she clearly did benefit. Then she completely forgives him in the end. And he escapes all punishment for his actions. And did I mention that there basically was not connection between the characters.

I read this novella because it came highly recommended on by an author that I love. Just goes to show me that just because I love an author doesn’t mean we have the same tastes in books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Hero is a virgin.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVING THE SECRET BILLIONAIRE is the first book in the Love at Last series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 1.5 stars.

one-half-stars

Review: In Dark Company

Review: In Dark CompanyIn Dark Company (Kate Burkholder #9.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #9.5
Published by Minotaur Books on May 29, 2018
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 60
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A little mystery that is centered in the characters. I always enjoy seeing Kate doing her work. Wish there was a little more Tomasetti.

THE STORY: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is awoken with a call about a woman who has run out of the night fleeing a mysterious man. The woman claims to have amnesia but knows that someone is trying to kill her. Kate has to find out who the woman is and discover if she is the victim or a criminal herself.

OPINION: I enjoyed this story but I missed the interaction between Kate and Tomasetti. While I appreciate that she is the main character and I expect in the large books that she will be acting as Chief of Police and an independent woman, I’ve liked the short stories the best when we get to see the two of them working together.

The story was a well crafted mystery with a definite and clear arc in the story. The characters were well designed for such a short story.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short story that focuses on a mystery with no romance involved.

CONNECTED BOOKS: IN DARK COMPANY is book 9.5 in the Kate Burkholder series.  This is a standalone mystery can be read without knowledge of any of the other books.

STAR RATING: I give this story 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Grigor

Review: GrigorGrigor (Dragon Hearts #5) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Dragon Hearts #5
Published by Carole Mortimer on May 25, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Fun and fast read. Nothing deep here, but I loved the sexy dragons and the trouble that the stuffiest one of them gets with the independent and original woman who is destined to be his mate. Like eating cotton candy.

THE STORY: Grigor Pendragon is close to turning into a feral dragon who will have to be killed by his brothers when he scents his mate. But the woman he finds is nothing like the sophisticated woman he expected to find as his mate. Instead, Grigor finds Gayle Wilson, computer geek, mouthy and independent. Gayle is being kept a virtual prisoner in the castle as a way of her sister and her dragon mate to protect Gayle. But Gayle doesn’t want to be protected, but when she is threatened, she might have no choice but to turn to Grigor even though she doesn’t believe the crazy man who believes he is a dragon shifter and she is his mate.

OPINION: Enjoyable fun read. The opposites attract story between Grigor and Gayle with the banter and arguments between them was what I really enjoyed. The story is pretty standard and for those who have read the rest of the series, follows the template of the others. The amusing pairing of these two, however, was something that I particularly enjoyed.

The series has gotten better in the last couple of books. While the stories are formulaic, they are something that I enjoyed as light reading. The humor and heat in the stories make these a nice diversion. Two people who wouldn’t otherwise pick one another are stuck and have to find a way to deal with one another and even come to like and eventually love each other.

WORTH MENTIONING: We get an update on Dylan and Holly from the previous book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: GRIGOR is the fifth book in the Dragon Hearts series. The romance is a standalone although the characters appear in prior books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: Wicked and the Wallflower

Review: Wicked and the WallflowerWicked and the Wallflower (The Bareknuckle Bastards, #1) by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards #1
Published by Avon on June 19, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 396
Goodreads
four-stars

“Felicity Faircloth,” he said, “in the few days I’ve known you, I’ve learned one, unimpeachable truth. You are no kind of ordinary.”

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable book with an emotional center, but suffers from introducing all the conflicts and thus loses a bit with the couple in this book. There is clearly an overarching storyline so this book misses a complete resolution.

THE STORY: Lady Felicity Faircloth keenly feels the loss of her social position. Impulsively, she claims to be engaged to the catch of the season — a reclusive duke. A mysterious and dangerous man, Devil, comes to Felicity and promises that he will make all her dreams come true — for a price. A bastard and the king of the dangerous streets of London, Devil intends to use Felicity for his own purposes to destroy his enemy, but Felicity might be Devil’s own downfall.

OPINION: MacLean has a deeply emotional and dramatic style of writing that I always enjoy. Her characters have complex emotional lives and the emotion is strong and deep in the relationship. I enjoyed this book, but because it feels like the first book in the series which is setting up relationships and because there is much unresolved at this book, it doesn’t feel complete.

On the positive side, I really connected with the world that MacLean has chosen to explore. The seedy side of London and the aristocratic world are combined in interesting ways. I believe the set up of the overarching story has definite possibilities. In fact, I think what is probably the big set up in the story is a drag on this story because I was more interested in the secrets yet to be revealed than the romance here.

Felicity is an interesting character. She is growing beyond the bounds of the aristocratic world while yearning to be part of it. When she meets the hero, she finds the place where she actually can be her truest self. But part of that growth is shedding the protective cocoon of what her entire life has been directed to prepare her for. One thing I especially liked was the realism of Felicity’s feelings towards her family. It felt good to have her examine the complexity of her feelings rather than being docile and accepting. One thing her character lacked, however, was that her willingness to toss away what she claimed to want felt too quick for me.

I really loved Devil, but the fact that secrets are still being kept about the past means that we still don’t know everything about his character. I never felt his conflict as well as I wanted to. We are being kept in the dark towards some future revelation and I don’t think that worked to the advantage of Devil’s story. The exploration of the BKB’s business gave the story some historical interest and I loved the relationship between the siblings.

This is a book that might improve once the series is done but I’ve been especially disappointed with some overarching stories lately so I’m reserving some judgment until I see how things play out.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book introduces and sets up some of the conflicts with the bastard siblings which clearly will play out through the series. This book does not resolve those conflicts so there are unresolved issues as this book ends.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER is the first book in the Bareknuckle Bastards series. The heroine, however, appeared in THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS. It is not necessary to read that book to understand everything in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Dylan

Review: DylanDylan (Dragon Hearts #4) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Dragon Hearts #4
Published by Carole Mortimer on March 16, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This was a light and fun story. There is nothing deep or thought provoking here, but I enjoyed the diversion of the story. Dylan and Holly have an amusing relationship that I enjoyed in this short read.

THE STORY: Dylan, one of the Pendragon brothers, awakens in a hospital and finds this elusive mate in Doctor Holly Barnes. But Dylan needs to find out why he blacked out and ended up in the hospital and thus isn’t ready to claim his mate. But when Holly seeks Dylan out, he finds himself having to deal with a human woman who is pretty sure Dylan’s stories of dragon shifters and King Arthur means the sexy man is crazy. But Holly needs Dylan’s help and Dylan is determined to keep his mate by his side.

OPINION: This series has a definite formula but the characters and the situation can make the books fun. I can enjoy a book for what it is and not every book has to be an intense emotional journey. This book was fun and I liked the characters and how they deal with the situation.

The book was a quick and easy read (but I have to admit I like these books much better if I don’t read them one after another because the similarities are too glaring).

It was nice seeing the characters from previous books. My real disappointment is that we didn’t get more with the dragon.

WORTH MENTIONING: We get an appearance from two characters from another series which was fun.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DYLAN is the fourth book in the Dragon Hearts series. The romance in this book is separate from others in the series, but the characters overlap.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Ocean Light

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

Review: Ocean LightOcean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity, #2; Psy-Changeling, #17) by Nalini Singh
Published by Berkley on June 12, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“This woman was no princess. She was a warrior. One Bo was dead certain was fighting the compulsion to stab him.”

FINAL DECISION: Hopeful, sweeter than I expected but with lots of intrigue and double crosses, I really enjoyed this book which continues to explore the struggles to create a united world with a man and woman who both need to overcome damaging pasts.

THE STORY: Bowen Knight of the Human Alliance should be dead. He was shot through the heart in an attempted assassination attempt. But even surviving that, Bowen has a ticking time bomb in his head — a chip he had implanted to prevent psychic rape by the Psy is degrading and threatens to kill not only Bowen but his friends and family at the top of the Human Alliance. Taken to an undersea facility controlled by BlackSea, Bowen has to confront some of his deepest fears. And when he meets the sweet and sexy cook Kaia Luna, Bowen decides that he doesn’t want to spent what might be the last few weeks of his life, without her. Kaia has faced so much loss in her life and getting involved with the seemingly doomed Bowen only threatens her with more sadness and grief.

OPINION: The Psy-Changeling series is one that I re-read every year. It takes weeks now as this is book number 17 (not including the novellas and free stories), but I never regret those weeks because the series is nuanced and complex and presents at its center a sense of hope and the possible.

OCEAN LIGHT takes readers into the mysterious world of the changeling group of BlackSea (which covers the ocean dwelling changelings). By the end of the this book, I still find this group very mysterious as it doesn’t follow many of the “rules” readers have learned about changelings. I hope that we get more books about the BlackSea characters as this book only made me more curious.

This book leaving me even more curious is a theme for me in this book. In fact, I ended this book with even more questions about where the overarching storyline is going than when I came in. There is some serious stuff going on in this series and while some parts are resolved, the core of the mystery still remains after this book. The Trinity series continues to investigate the conflict between those for and those against the Trinity alliance. The “villains” have managed to efficiently organize Psy, humans and changelings and the question still remains whether the “good guys” can manage to form their own connections in time.

Bowen Knight is familiar to readers of the series. Nominally the security head of the Human Alliance, Bo is, in fact, the leader and the person keeping the Alliance together. Bo has been obsessed with the idea of protecting the vulnerable humans from the psychic powers of the Psy. His singlemindedness has led him to have an experimental technology implanted in his brain to shield his mind from Psy. As we learned, however, Bo (along with his sister and friends who also got implants) are living on borrowed time as the implant is unstable. But as readers of the series will recall, although Bo has but months to live, Bo was shot protecting his sister in SILVER SILENCE. This book begins on the heels of those events.

In this book, we learn the origins of Bo’s determination to find a way to protect humans. In the face of Bo’s intense dislike of the Psy, ironically, Bo finds himself attracted to a woman who has her own reasons for disliking humans and wanting nothing to do with Bo. Bo’s brush with death creates a determination in him to not miss a moment of possibility when he finds himself attracted to Kaia.

As the “alpha” of the Human Alliance, Bo’s world is complicated and filled with the possibility of betrayal. The Trinity world is more political and dangerous because it is unclear who can be trusted. And the lack of trust extends not only between groups but within the groups themselves as both the Alliance and BlackSea have to consider if there are traitors within.

Kaia is a new character to the series and one I really, really liked. She is caring and smart and not willing to put up with any nonsense from Bo. Her heart is so big and life has bruised her up pretty badly. Yet she still opens herself up and risks more pain with Bo. Kaia’s storyline here had much more interest for me. She is the one who is risking so much (because Bo could end up dead or as good as). And I admit that I was intrigued to find out what type of changeling she is. (I also want a cookbook with her recipes because they sound so good!)

I thought the romance between Bo and Kaia was intensely sweet. We get to see a side of Bo that he himself didn’t know existed until he met Kaia. There is something to be said for what a clever and determined man will do when he finds the woman. There is a bit of innocence in how Bo approaches his courtship of Kaia because he has truly never connected with a woman before. And that continues the irony of Bo’s life, just when he finds what matters in his life, this life has a countdown for him.

Most of the conflict here ends up being external and there is quite of bit of intrigue in this book. On the plot end, I was pleased to get to see some of my favorites from the series. Although we end up in a new environment, I like feeling the series grounded in its roots and with the characters who I already know and miss when they don’t appear.

I walked away from this book with a sense of warmth and joy and loved all the characters we got to spend time with in this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: I tilted between a 4 and a 4.5 for this book. The epilogue, however, firmly tilted this book to a 4.5 — any book where Kaleb and Sahara make a significant emotional appearance gets a little boost from me!

CONNECTED BOOKS: OCEAN LIGHT is the second book in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. The books are interconnected with continuing storylines although the romance is self-contained. The Psy-Changeling Trinity series is a spin-off or Season 2 of the Psy-Changeling series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: A Duke in the Night

Review: A Duke in the NightA Duke in the Night (The Devils of Dover, #1) by Kelly Bowen
Series: The Devils of Dover #1
Published by Forever on February 20, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: A disappointment for me after the book came highly recommended. There is just too much slammed in this book that hides the fact that there is little connection between the hero and heroine. The characters felt out of place in the historical setting and I’m frankly becoming annoyed with writers sticking modern sentiments into the historical settings.

THE STORY: Ten years ago, August Faulkner danced with Clara Hayward on a dare. But he has never forgotten her nor has she forgotten him. Now the headmistress of a school for young ladies, Clara comes into the orbit of August again when he (now a duke) wants to acquire her family’s struggling business.

OPINION: The first chapter of this book is the best part. Unfortunately, I don’t think the relationship between the characters ever progresses beyond that moment in time. The book attempts to attribute too much emotion to that moment and nothing between them really develops beyond that moment.

This book feels more like women’s fiction concerned more about feminist issues of women’s empowerment than the romance. August really suffers in this book because he is merely a foil for Clara to assert her opinions about women’s rights. This book is clumsy in its attempts to make all these issues work together. Both Courtney Milan and Lisa Kleypas have written much better integrated books that address feminism in historical context.

I got bored because it seemed to be a story about a woman asserting her independence more than it is a romance and I couldn’t really feel any connection between the hero and the heroine.

WORTH MENTIONING: I only finished this book because it came so highly recommended to me and I kept hoping that something would end up working for me in the book. Some readers who are looking for modern issues to be explored in historical contexts might like this book, but it wasn’t for me.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DUKE IN THE NIGHT is the first book in the Devils of Dover series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

two-half-stars