Review: Kiss of a Demon King

Review: Kiss of a Demon KingKiss of a Demon King (Immortals After Dark, #7) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #7
Published by Pocket Books on January 20, 2009
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 417

Good Boy Attracted to a Bad Girl

“Rydstrom was known as upstanding and good, Sabine as treacherous and evil.”

FINAL DECISION: This intriguing story of a good king who has been really tired with being good and having people defer to him finds his mate in a wicked woman who is on the side of evil.

THE STORY: Rydstrom Woede lost his kingdom nine hundred years ago and has spent those years plotting to get it back. Just when he discovers the existence of a sword that can kill his “unkillable” usurper (that story is told in DARK DESIRES AFTER DUSK), Rydstrom is abducted by Sabine, Sorceress of Illusions, a wicked woman who is half sister to the usurper and working with him. Sabine intends on seducing Rydstrom and becoming pregnant with his heir in order to cement control of Rydstrom’s kingdom.

OPINION: What I found most intriguing about this book is the story that begins as a good man and a wicked woman and yet the attraction between the two demonstrates that the good boy has a bad side and the bad girl can also be sympathetic and gentle. The complexity of these characters was refreshing because the book doesn’t have a cop out that Sabine has actually been a good person all along. Her bad acts are explained and can be understood but are not diminished as being bad acts. This book moves beyond the bad/good dichotomy and allows itself to dwell in shades of grey which makes the character more vibrant, more real and more interesting.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book takes place concurrently with the previous book and fills in the gaps of what was happening in Cade’s book since this book is from Rydstrom’s perspective.

CONNECTED BOOKS: KISS OF A DEMON KING is the seventh book in the Immortals After Dark series. This book can be read as a standalone but is better read as part of the series. At least a reader should read the story of Rydstrom’s brother DARK DESIRES AFTER DUSK which occurs concurrently with this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Unforgettable You

Review: Unforgettable YouUnforgettable You (Silver Springs, #5) by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #5
Published by MIRA on February 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416

FINAL DECISION: I liked a lot about this book, but I felt the heroine was a weak personality. It took too long for her to take control of her life from her manipulative mother, by the time she did, I wanted a grander gesture.

THE STORY: Jada Brooks returns to Silver Springs with her daughter after her divorce. Twelve years after a youthful mistake tore apart her world and her family’s, Jada is trying to do penance by caring for her ill mother and her disabled younger brother. What she doesn’t expect is the return to town of Maddox Richardson — the man she loved whose decisions helped destroy her family’s world, and the man who unknowingly left her pregnant. Maddox has returned to Silver Springs as the head of the new girl’s school in town. The decisions that led to the injuries to Jada’s brother are something he still regrets and he doesn’t want to bring any more pain to that family, but he has never been able to forget Jada.

OPINION: First what I liked about this book. There is a great message here about forgiveness and healing. Apart from the issues with the heroine that I discuss below, I would have really loved how these two have a second chance at love and are able to move beyond the past to grab it.

The hero in this book is amazing. Maddox is a kind man who is working hard to make up for one mistake in his life that had serious and lifelong consequences. He has turned his life to something good and yet manages to care for his drug addicted mother and his brother who is getting out of prison. I found him caring and adult and sweet.

Which made the heroine even harder to take at times.

The heroine really annoyed me at times in this book. Her decision to keep the truth about her daughter’s father from her and then state that she is doing it because she worried about her daughter rejecting her if she told the truth made me almost actively dislike her. She should care about what is best for her daughter. And that is the truth — not what makes Jada’s own life more convenient. In fact, Jada seems pretty week as a person. She is not a child; she is thirty years old and has a twelve year old. No matter her guilt over what happened, she doesn’t seem to be able to be concerned about anything other than herself. It’s like she is saying “Oh, please mom, please forgive me. I will sacrifice my life and my daughter’s life if you will just love me more.” I don’t really respect her and it takes too long in this book for her to make any changes. By that time, I just didn’t care anymore. I could only hope that Maddox found out the truth and would be able to show his daughter that people can care about their dysfunctional family and still have limits.

I wanted to like this book more but I needed more from the heroine.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is an Easter Egg for fans of the Evelyn Talbot series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: UNFORGETTABLE YOU is the fifth book in the Silver Springs series. The romance is self-contained and thus this can be read as a standalone. There are some overlapping characters, but they are only background in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.



Review: Sworn to Silence

Review: Sworn to SilenceSworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder, #1) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #1
Published by Minotaur Books on May 25, 2010
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 368

Compelling, Thrilling Mystery with a Touch of Romance

“I dream of death.”

FINAL DECISION: A good mystery mixed with a troubled and competent chief of police, secrets that threaten her career and perhaps her life and scary drama. Clear, well written and complex, this story kicks of the series and made me immediately want to read the next book.

THE STORY: Kate Burkholder grew up Amish in simple innocence until she was brutally attacked at the age of 14. The aftermath of her attack led her to rebellion and a crisis of faith and had her leave the Amish. She has now returned to her hometown — no longer Amish but now the Chief of Police. When a serial killer murders a woman in a way that is reminiscent of the Slaughterhouse Killer from sixteen years ago, the town panics that the killer has returned. Kate, however, knows that the Slaugherhouse Killer is dead, but can’t tell anyone else. What she doesn’t know is who is killing women now and why are the killings so similar to those of the Slaughterhouse Killer?

OPINION: I ended up buying this book on a lark because Amazon had it as a Daily Deal at a reduced price. I like tough women who solve mysteries so I decided to try this book out. I am incredibly glad I did because this book was fantastic. I immediately bought the rest of the series and plan on reading them soon.

Having grown up Amish and then rejecting that life, Kate lives with a foot in each of the worlds that collide in the town of Painters Mill, Ohio. A small town with a significant Amish population, she has to navigate the tricky politics and cultures that intersect in the town.

Kate also has dark secrets that have haunted her and her family for years and which have caused a divide that along with her rejection of the Amish life, have left her alone even with her family living in the same town.

For a mystery novel, I ask that the solution not be obvious but also that once the reveal happens that the solution makes sense. This book meets that standard. Readers should also be aware that there are some graphic depictions of the crimes and some graphic violence during the novel. I didn’t think it was overly graphic and it was appropriate for the subject matter and not gratuitous.

There are some quirky secondary characters that bring necessary humor to the story without taking over. Also, readers are introduced to John Tomasetti, who works with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. John is addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol after the murders of his wife and children and is sent to help with the murder investigation under the assumption that he will fail. His own dark past is also an issue here and readers are left to wonder if John will help solve the crime or destroy Kate’s career.

All the questions and problems with Kate and John’s pasts are not resolved in this book — neither is their relationship, but this is the first book in the series and it appears that more will be explored in future novels.

WORTH MENTIONING: After reading this book, I recommended it to my mother. I told her it reminds me of J.D. Robb’s In Death series (without the futuristic elements) and Kay Hooper’s SCU series (without the paranormal elements). So if you like either of those, try this.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SWORN TO SILENCE is the first book in the Kate Burkholder series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Dark Desires After Dusk

Review: Dark Desires After DuskDark Desires After Dusk (Immortals After Dark, #6) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #6
Published by Pocket Books on May 20, 2008
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 388

Immortals Road Trip with a Dark Undertone

“She equaled the crown he’d worked for nine hundred years to reclaim — the unyielding pursuit that had given him a reason to go on living. All he had to do was use and betray the woman he’d waited just as long to possess.”

FINAL DECISION: This book has a fun and sexy roadtrip between Cade and Holly. I loved how Holly was introduced to the Lore, but the book has an underlying dark side as Cade lies to Holly and is willing to sacrifice her and their possible relationship in order to assuage his guilt.

THE STORY: Cadeon Woede is a rage demon and known as the Kingmaker — although he lost his brother his kingdom. Cade has felt that guilt for nine centuries and has been determined to rectify that mistake. He’s offered an opportunity to obtain a sword that will help his brother kill the usurper. All Cade has to do is find the “Vessel” (a female who will bear a child that will be ultimate good or evil) and turn her over. Cade discovers that the vessel is the woman who is his mate. Cade has been watching Holly Ashwin for a year but her humanity has kept him from claiming her. When it turns out that she is the vessel, Cade knows that he will have to lie and trick Holly and sacrifice her in order to rectify his error.

OPINION: A fun and sexy roadtrip of self-discovery for Holly, this book has a dark side. I loved so much about this book — the fun banter and relationship between Holly and Cade, Holly’s neurotic tendencies and her discovery of her true nature, Cade demon sexiness. Boy is this book hot! Having Holly be a human with no knowledge of the Lore allowed the education of her to substitute in the narrative for the reader and thus permitted exposition of some of the important events of the overarching series. Her inexperience also allows for great comedy as she discovers the Lore.

My disappointment with this book is that I didn’t feel that Cade groveled enough after the lies he told Holly. She forgives him too quickly for my tastes. This book is good and a great addition to the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book takes places at the same time as KISS OF A DEMON KING which follows.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK DESIRES AFTER DARK is the sixth book in the Immortals After Dark series. This book can be read as a standalone although it is better as part of the series since there is an overarching story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Misadventures with My Ex

Review: Misadventures with My ExMisadventures with My Ex (Misadventures, #18) by Shayla Black
Series: Misadventures #18
Published by Waterhouse Press on March 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 196

FINAL DECISION: A second chance at love story with lots of sexy times, a manipulative prospective mother-in-law and two people who love one another even through years of being apart.

THE STORY: Three years ago, Eryn Hope fell hard for Weston Quaid but her heart was broken when he walked out on their wedding day. Three years later, he walks back into her life with a proposition: he will take care of the bills regarding her closed restaurant if she spends six weeks with him in Las Vegas. They have an agreement with different goals: Eryn wants to sex Weston out of her system so that she can finally forget him; Weston wants Eryn back.

OPINION: What didn’t work for me? I really never accepted the events that led to the breakup of Eryn and West three years ago. But that is the setup for the story so putting that aside, I really enjoyed this book.

There was a real sense of emotion between Eryn and West which is heightened by the alternating first person points of view allowing the reader to really trust in these two characters motivations even when the events seem to point to something else. A story that might be exploitative without understanding that West really loves Eryn and wants to get her to listen to and believe him ends up working and being sexy. I enjoy a good second chance story and these two characters have to get through their mistakes. They are both young (just in the mid 20s) when this book begins so the serious mistakes of three years ago makes a little more sense.

What really worked for me? The connection between these characters and their desperation for one another even amid all the mistakes of their past.

WORTH MENTIONING: I hope we get another book about Eryn’s sister Echo and her superhot best friend.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES WITH MY EX is the eighteenth book in the Misadventures series. This series, however, is by different authors and doesn’t have a common storyline or characters so they can generally be read as standalones. However, this book is connected with MISADVENTURES OF A BACKUP BRIDE which is the story of Eryn’s sister Ella. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.



Review: Forbidden

Review: ForbiddenForbidden (Regency Lovers #4) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Lovers #4
Published by Carole Mortimer on February 28, 2019
Genres: Historical

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this story which really felt like a continuation of the previous book in the series. There is plenty of insta-love here, but that aside, the story was enjoyable. I wanted more heat to the story, however.

THE STORY: When Zachary Nobel, Earl of Harrogate, saves the life of Lady Rissa Spencer, he finds himself entranced by the young outspoken woman. But just when he begins to think of romance between them, he discovers that her stepmother is the woman he was accused of raping a decade ago. Even though he was eventually cleared of the crime, he doesn’t have much hope that Rissa’s father will welcome him as a suitor for his daughter. But when a common enemy from the past reappears, Zachary is determined to protect the woman he calls his Angel.

OPINION: I liked this story primarily because I really enjoyed the prior book in the series and this one was closely related. I liked seeing characters I knew from that book again and for two of them to get their own happy ending.

This is a novella length story and thus there is some insta-love involved. Zachary and Rissa are quickly involved but then the story actually starts. One negative is that Zachary seemed somewhat younger than his chronological age. Positives are that I enjoyed the story because it was intertwined with the closure from the prior book.

I also liked that this was a quick and easy read. For fans of the prior book, this one is a great addition.

There is plenty of foreplay in this book, but no actual consummation “on stage” which was a bit of a disappointment. I needed one more chapter.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are appearances from Sophia and Magnus from CRAVING.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FORBIDDEN is the fourth book in the Regency Lovers series. Although it is a standalone, it is closely connected to the third book in the series CRAVING so I recommend reading at least these two in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: Dark Needs at Night’s Edge

Review: Dark Needs at Night’s EdgeDark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark, #5) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #5
Published by Pocket Books on April 29, 2008
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 368

The Complexity and Variety in Cole’s Immortals World Always Surprises

“Two broken souls together in this broken place had found a kind of contentment.”

FINAL DECISION: Cole’s Immortals series always surprises. These characters are different and unique and despite the continuing storyline, this book feels fresh and interesting. Always filled with humor and intense sexuality, this story is also poignant.

THE STORY: Neomi Laress was a famous ballerina in New Orleans in the 1920s and she became a ghost when she was murdered in her own home. For over eighty years, she has been trapped in her home invisible to everyone. Conrad Wroth is a vampire who has been almost driven mad by consuming blood from living beings. Captured by his brothers who want to save him, Conrad is held hostage in Neomi’s house. And he can see her.

OPINION: This was a wonderful story. Conrad is a vampire on the edge. The first time in the series we have seen a red-eyed vampire return from the blood madness. He is also a virgin. His pairing with the free spirited and sexually experienced Neomi is a good combination. I especially liked how both Conrad and Neomi are trapped in her house but that they find in one another a special connection and relationship. The claustrophobic nature of the book with much of it taking place within the house intensifies the relationship between Conrad and Neomi. I also really did love the solution to the problem of a ghost and a vampire which I thought was clever and not just a convenient solution.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are significant appearances by prior couples from the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK NEEDS AT NIGHT’S EDGE is the fifth book in the Immortals After Dark series. The book can be read as a standalone but is much better when read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Prisoner of Night

Review: Prisoner of NightPrisoner of Night (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #16.5) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5
Published by Gallery Books on January 7, 2019
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 176

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this story. Damaged hero, strong independent heroine, lots of action and an engrossing love story makes for a really good story set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

THE STORY: Ahmare will do anything to get her brother returned to her — even kill. When she is forced to recover the beloved of the man who is holding her brother hostage, Ahmare is paired with another of the man’s prisoners in her quest. Duran has been imprisoned for decades after being betrayed by his father. It is now time for Duran’s vengeance so while he is on Ahmare’s quest, he has his own agenda.

OPINION: This was an enjoyable foray into the Black Dagger World where the familiar characters exist, but are not present in this story. I really enjoyed this story which is primarily focused on the relationship between Ahmare and Duran. This more intense focus on the two characters and the situation made the story more intense.

Duran is a very broken vampire as the story begins. Held and tortured for decades, he only has one mission on his mind. I loved his character because he is so damaged and yet manages to find the way to be kind and gentle with Ahmare.

Ahmare is a good person who has dipped her toe in the dark side in order to save her brother. Now she wonders whether things will ever be good again. She is incredibly strong and does what is necessary.

These are two characters where the darkness of life challenges them. In one another, they find some of the good and lightness in life.

The plot works well and had action and excitement. This is a nicely focused story. Everything and everyone is nicely wrapped up by the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a much shorter story than the usual BDB book, but is full and complete in itself.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PRISONER OF NIGHT is book 16.5 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. While this book takes place in the BDB world, it is not necessary to read the prior books to enjoy this one and it can be read as a standalone.

It is a nice introduction into the BDB universe for those who haven’t had the pleasure of reading the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.



Review: Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night

Review: Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s NightWicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals After Dark, #4) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #4
Published by Pocket Books on September 24, 2007
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 401

Paranormal Enemies to Lovers Story

FINAL DECISION: This series is amazing. Funny and sexy and filled with adventure, this book is the story of enemies who end up falling in love with one another and overcome many obstacles of their own making.

THE STORY: Bowen Macrieve is a werewolf who has lost his mate over two hundred years ago and has lived only to try and find a way to bring her back. When he enters the legendary race to win the ability to turn back time, he is determined to win and save his mate. He encounters the mortal witch Mariketa the Awakened and is convinced that his attraction to her is caused by her magic. Mari is unable to control her magic well and doesn’t know if she has influenced Bowen’s feelings. The two are competitors and then enemies and their attraction complicates all these.

OPINION: I loved the tone and scope of this book. Bowen and Mari have some serious issues between them. This is not a sweet and gentle romance. There is serious conflict and they hurt one another — literally. Their inability to separate themselves from one another makes this story very interesting. I especially liked the idea that Bowen may have destroyed his own happiness with his lack of contemplation.

The relationship between Bowen and Mari is sexy and funny and sometimes painful. Mari is barely coming into her immortality and as such is going through personal changes discovering who she is. Bowen is having centuries of belief challenged by the young witch. This book is all about growth and change.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book overlaps the events in the previous book NO REST FOR THE WICKED.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED DEEDS ON A WINTER’S NIGHT is the fourth book in the Immortals After Dark series. It can be read as a standalone although the books are interconnected and are better read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: A Dangerous Collaboration

Review: A Dangerous CollaborationA Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #4
Published by Berkley on March 12, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 336

FINAL DECISION: An exciting mystery and tons of romantic tension, this is an amazing addition to the Veronica Speedwell series.

THE STORY: Veronica agrees to travel to an island off Cornwall in the company of her colleague Stoker’s older brother, Tiberius. And circumstances being what they are, Veronica agrees to pretend to be Tiberius’s fiancee. But when they arrive on the island, it is clear that something is wrong. Those in attendance have varying connections to the disappearance of their host’s wife three years ago. Veronica and Stoker are thus thrust into an investigation of ghostly appearances and the mystery of what happened three years ago.

OPINION: This might be my favorite of the series so far. I loved the interaction between Veronica and Stoker in this one. Angst filled and dramatic with a mystery that kept me guessing until the end. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who read these books for the mysteries, but I will be honest and say that while I enjoy the mysteries, I primarily want to know more about the continuing character stories in the book.

This book managed to not disappoint in either account. The cast of characters involved in the mystery was intriguing. I really felt that each character was well defined and interesting. The setting felt like an Agatha Christie novel. It was atmospheric and almost Gothic in its flavor. The haunting by the missing bride had so many interesting aspects and questions. I really liked how personal the entire episode felt even though Veronica and Stoker were not directly involved in the mystery itself. Here, they operate more as the independent investigators, although their own views and prejudices are evident here.

The relationship between Veronica and Stoker is a favorite for me. The story is nuanced and based upon the events in the prior novel, the two are in a different place which is not always comfortable or happy. I loved how the two circle around one another here. The emotional tone is raised high. I continue to love Veronica who has walls and is difficult at times. Veronica and Stoker have a special relationship that is uneasy and yet the two make such a perfect pair.

We also get to know more about Stoker’s brother, Tiberious. I also found him an interesting character and I liked seeing his interaction with Veronica and Stoker. He stirs up a lot with these characters and thus is a welcome addition. (I hope we get to see more of him in future books).

WORTH MENTIONING: Originally a five book series, the author has indicated that there might be more books contracted by the publisher. Yay!

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DANGEROUS COLLABORATION is the fourth book in the Veronica Speedwell series. Each book has a self-contained mystery and thus is a standalone. However, there are character developments and relationships which develop through the series and thus the books are better read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.