Review: Tiger Striped

Review: Tiger StripedTiger Striped: Shifters Unbound by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #11.5
Published by JA / AG Publishing on May 22, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I love, love, love Tiger. I would read a story about him going to the grocery store to buy stuff for dinner, but this story resolves some things from his novel so it is a wonderful companion. So glad to get another glimpse of my favorite Shifter couple.

THE STORY: In the middle of the night, Tiger gets the feeling that someone needs him and takes off. But his mate is not allowing him to endanger himself alone again and insists on going along. Tiger knows that someone, somewhere needs him and he has to go.

OPINION: I love when novellas in a series have a purpose. This one definitely is a must read in the series as it has some big secrets that are revealed. But what I love most is the characters of Tiger and Carly who already make such a loving unit.

I love Tiger because he is so honest and centered. He doesn’t have the instincts or interest in deception so we always know exactly what he thinks and feels based upon his viewpoint. This story turns that on its head for a while when we don’t understand his actions, but (of course) everything is neatly explained in the year.

The story is centered around the big reveal so I won’t go into that because it would be a spoiler, but I did love seeing how Tiger and Carly relate to one another as a settled couple and Conner is a cutie.

The story has some action and drama and I loved seeing all the Austen Shifters again. The nice thing about this story is that it has consequence for the series and the characters.

And what is truly to love about this story are the characters. Ashley has created a whole society filled with multi-dimensional characters so their cameos here all have consequence and a nice homecoming feel.

I recommend this novella for everyone who is a fan of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: We get to spend some time with Conner Morrissey as well. I hope we get to see him more in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TIGER STRIPED is book 11.5 in the Shifters Unbound series. This novella is an update on the characters of Tiger and Carly from TIGER MAGIC. I recommend reading that book first to get to know the characters.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this novella from the author 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.

five-stars

Review: Duke of Hearts

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: Duke of HeartsThe Duke of Hearts (The 1797 Club) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #7
Published by Passionate Pen on May 22nd 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

“Everyone knows my story, don’t they? It is all they talk about. The Duke of Tyndale and His Tragedy. It is practically folklore.”

FINAL DECISION: These characters end up being just so nice and I liked them tremendously. The contrast being their so good character and how they meet gives what might otherwise be a too nice story some dash.

THE STORY: Matthew Cornwallis, Duke of Tyndale, is urged by his friends to put aside his grief at the death of his fiancee three years ago and attend the Donville Masquerade, a sinful gathering where masked guests meet for sexual encounters. There Tyndale meets a masked stranger who he ends up spending the night with. Isabel Hayes is a widow whose elderly husband was chosen by her parents in an arranged marriage. Curious about what she missed in her marriage, Isabel comes to the Donville Masquerade to watch. But then she meets a masked stranger who tempts her to find the passion she missed. Eventually, however, Isabel realizes that her lover was the man engaged to her cousin and who her uncle blames for her death.

OPINION: I really, really liked the characters in this book. Both Matthew and Isabel are good and even gentle characters who find one another despite pasts which make them wary because the guards and shields are let down when they meet in a sinful and wicked way.

This book is hot and it manages to do that with very likable and nice characters. Although both have some pain in their lives, their inherent positivism contrasts with some of the other characters in the book who dwell in their unhappiness. I really liked that about these characters. The willingness to make the best of things, to look forward, to try and be happy.

Most of the conflict here ends up being external because these two hit it off almost from the start. In fact, they seemed so perfect for one another that I wondered how the dramatic tension in the story could be maintained — and yet it was. All of the parts work here.

WORTH MENTIONING: I especially loved that we get to see so many of the members of the 1797 Club and their wives.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DUKE OF HEARTS is the seventh book in the 1797 Club series. The series tells the stories of a group of men destined to become dukes. Each book tells the story of one couple but the characters appear throughout the series. This book can be read as a standalone.

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: Planet Dragos

Review: Planet DragosPlanet Dragos (Elder Races, #9.8) by Thea Harrison
Series: Elder Races #9.8
Published by Teddy Harrison LLC on May 14, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Disasters were always a surprise.”

FINAL DECISION: Manages to pack a lot in this adventure including continuing bumps for Dragos and Pia as a married and parenting couple, a deadly enemy, some revelations about Dragos and even a possible future for the Elder Races. Essential for fans of the series.

THE STORY: Dragos and Pia travel to Las Vegas to attend the wedding of their friends Rune and Carling. It’s a difficult time for Dragos and Pia. Pia’s pregnancy is a challenge and her relationship has suffered as a result. But things get worse in Vegas. Death is doing a show in town and Pia is kidnapped by someone who wants revenge on Dragos. It will take the combined help of Dragos and Pia’s friends to save her.

OPINION: I found this story bittersweet because I have loved Dragos and Pia through the entire series and have always highly anticipated anything new about their lives. But after this story, they have earned their peace and happy ending.

While there is some small tension between Dragos and Pia while they anticipate the birth of the second and final child, the real danger to them is external. In this novella, the two are just slightly out of sync which allows the danger to arise. Things must be put right in order for them to have the peace they both desire.

Dragos’s past comes back to haunt the two again, but honestly, the heart is really Dragos and Pia. The villain is a danger, but pretty one dimensional. Instead, this is the story of Dragos and Pia figuring things out between them and getting a whole bunch of Elder Races alums to make appearances to save the day.

Fans of the series will enjoy this wrap-up of Dragos and Pia’s story. And there are some tasty possibilities as this story ends. I hold out hope that Harrison will pick up those threads and write more about the Elder Races based in New York.

WORTH MENTIONING: Harrison has stated that this will be the last story to feature the POV of Dragos and Pia.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PLANET DRAGOS is book 9.8 in the Elder Races series. This book is a culmination of the various stories about Dragos and Pia and should be read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via the author 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: Reckless

Review: RecklessReckless (The House of Rohan, #2) by Anne Stuart
Series: The House of Rohan #2
Published by Mira Books on September 1, 2010
Genres: Historical
Pages: 408
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really loved this book because Adrian is never as bad as he thinks (and certainly not as dark and dangerous as his father). Charlotte and he make a great match with some suspense and drama tossed in.

THE STORY: Miss Charlotte Spenser is firmly on the shelf so she convinces her cousin to allow her to attend a meeting of the Heavenly Host to see vice and sin first hand. She also happens to want to see Viscount Adrian Rohan who Charlotte has been fascinated with for years. Adrian has been engaged in sinful activities for years and while he has kept his distance from the innocent Miss Spenser, he can’t resist her when he appears at his revelries.

OPINION: This book wanders closer to the typical rake hero. Adrian is not as dark as many of Stuart’s heroes and the romance while focusing a great deal on the sexual experiences between the hero and heroine does follow a more typical storyline.

Charlotte immediately breaks down Adrian’s walls. He struggles for a while, but he doesn’t have a strong reason to avoid her. In fact, the real drama in this story ends up being mostly external.

I really liked the heat between these two. Adrian is a little bit of a jerk, but Charlotte is strong and willing to put him in his place. I loved watching her gain strength and determination as the story progresses.

The funny thing is that these two end up being pretty sweet as a couple.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a secondary romance in this book that I enjoyed but wish we had gotten a whole book about because they are that interesting.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RECKLESS is the second book in the House of Rohan series. This book is about the son of the couple from book 1 so this book can be read as a standalone but also has some overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Ruthless

Review: RuthlessRuthless (The House of Rohan, #1) by Anne Stuart
Series: The House of Rohan #1
Published by MIRA on July 20, 2010
Genres: Historical
Pages: 409
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Dark and not always likable hero but I really enjoy that he is a real jaded rake and not just a happy go lucky guy. The story is dark and angsty and very hot.

THE STORY: Elinor Harriman’s family is sliding into poverty as her mother has the pox and she has a lovely younger sister to care for. When her mother takes what little the family has left and runs off to gamble at a gathering of the Heavenly Host (a group of people dedicated to sin and vice), Elinor has no choice but to follow and bring her mother home. Searching for her mother, Elinor meets Viscount Francis Rohan, a jaded and depraved man with dark desires. Rohan finds Elinor intriguing and the two begin a relationship that sits on the razor edge between caring and using.

OPINION: I loved this book. The hero is dark and until the end it is never clear whether he will turn out to be the villain or the hero. He acts in a despicable manner for much of the book and yet Stuart has a way of making me root for him. Because while he seems to have fallen far into the dark and evil, he still has a soul worth saving by the end.

Elinor operates as his salvation. She is a difficult character to read and her actions are not always reasonable — until we discover her secret.

This is not a story for the faint of heart or those looking for the typical romance story. These characters travel into dark areas of sin and vice and their own tortured souls.

WORTH MENTIONING: Anne Stuart write anti-heroes. These are alpha men who ride the edge between being so unlikable as to be the villains of the story and being the redemptive heroes. Her book are not for everyone. These are not modern nice guy heroes.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RUTHLESS is the first book in the House of Rohan series. There is a prequel book, but this book is a standalone from that story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: The Wicked House of Rohan

Review: The Wicked House of RohanThe Wicked House of Rohan (The House of Rohan, #0.5) by Anne Stuart
Series: The House of Rohan #0.5
Published by MIRA on July 1, 2010
Genres: Historical
Pages: 39
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A hot little story that introduces the premise of the series. The story is very short, but I enjoyed the interaction between the characters.

THE STORY: Kathleen Strong is desperate. Tossed from her position as a governess for immortality, Kathleen is homeless and starving when she is brought to a group of aristocrats for a job. But what she doesn’t know is that they want her innocence for one of their “games”. Alistair Rohan is intrigued by Miss Stong and despite her wanting nothing to do with him, he wants her.

OPINION: This is a short story and thus is not as developed as a novel or even a novella. Despite this, I really got a sense of the characters and I enjoyed their interaction. Taking place before the novels in the series, this book introduces the Heavenly Host society that is featured in the other books in the series.

This was a sexy and fun little story. I really loved Alistair who is a man who has seen and done everything and just is entranced by Kathleen.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story takes place in the mid 18th century.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE WICKED HOUSE OF ROHAN is the prequel to the House of Rohan series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Other Lady Vanishes

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: The Other Lady VanishesThe Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Burning Cove #2
Published by Berkley on May 8, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368
Goodreads
three-half-stars

“He knew that Adelaide was not telling him everything but he also sensed that she was not lying to him. Fair enough. She had a right to her secrets. He was keeping a few from her.”

FINAL DECISION: More mystery than romance, I liked the story but I really wish we got to know the characters more than on a surface level.

THE STORY: In 1930s California, Adelaide Blake escapes from a private sanitarium and arrives in Burning Cove with a new identity. Burning Cove is the trendy escape for the rich and famous of Hollywood and Los Angeles. Working as a waitress in a tea shop, Adelaide meet Jake Truett, a widowed businessman who has come to Burning Cove to recover after his wife’s untimely death. The two end up mixed up with a murder and must work together while the secrets each is keeping threaten them.

OPINION: This is a book focused more on plot than the characters. We know some about Adelaide and Jake, but I finished the book still not feeling like I know the internal life of these characters. The characters felt just too generic and lacked personality and interest to me. I certainly understood their attraction, but I didn’t get the mad passion which would make these two declare love for one another after such a short period of time. The book ended up feeling like the beginning of a story rather than sustaining the entire resolution. I thought the characters were okay, but I wish that there was more depth and interest to the characters.

The story was good and I really like the time period and setting. The story might have been better with a couple less twists and more character development of the villains. This was a good, but not great read and was not as interesting as last year’s entry in this series.

That being said, there were some period moments that I really liked. I really enjoyed the interaction between Adelaide and Jake as they navigated people’s assumptions about their relationship. The episode in the auto court was like a period movie and I really enjoyed the time focused on their relationship. I just wish there was more.

WORTH MENTIONING: I miss the old Amanda Quick books which were primarily romances with some suspense and mystery tossed in. The newer books focus almost exclusively on the mystery and suspense elements and add the romance as an after thought. The books are okay, but not memorable or ones that demand to be re-read by me.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE OTHER LADY VANISHES is the second book in the Burning Cove series. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of the 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.

three-half-stars

Review: Wicked Temptation

Wicked Temptation (Regency Sinners 6) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Sinners #6
Published by Carole Mortimer on April 27, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Completely unrealistic but hot romance. I wanted more character development rather than sexual escapades.

THE STORY: Lord Titus Covington, Viscount Romney and his friend were assigned the job of investigating the Germaine twins to determine if one of them is the traitor that the “Sinners” are seeking. When the traitor orchestrates a carriage accident killing Titus’s friend and Lady Prudence Germaine’s twin sister, Prudence blames Titus. But Titus needs to clear Lady Prudence so he is insistent on getting closer to her — of course, he also is attracted to her as well.

OPINION: This book follows the formulas of the prior books in the series. This book, however, didn’t have a strong couple at its center. I never really got the connection between Titus and Prudence since their beginning happens before this book begins. The pace of their relationship is really quick as they fall into serious sexual escapades without any prelude. I also didn’t buy that this innocent would be traipsing around London alone allowing her to meet with Titus.

For me, there was too much sex and not enough character development. The book is hot but I think that was a substitute for the characters having any real depth.

The overarching story also doesn’t move very much here as this book is really just setting up the final book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: I am totally on board for the final book in the series. I didn’t see the setup coming.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED TEMPTATION is the sixth book in the Regency Sinners series. This book can be read as a standalone as it summarizes everything a reader needs to know. Readers should be aware, however, that there is an overarching storyline this is not resolved in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: A Duke Like No Other

Review: A Duke Like No OtherA Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides, #9) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #9
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on May 1, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“I need you to return to England with me for a few months and pretend to be my loving wife.”

FINAL DECISION: I loved this second chance at love story uses the heat and pride of the two main characters to weave a story about two people who loved one another but were too stubborn to fix things between them.

THE STORY: General Mark Grimaldi has devoted and sacrificed most of his life to protecting England as a spymaster. Now that the wars have ended, he’s about ready to achieve his greatest professional goal — to be named Home Secretary. There is only one problem for Mark. The job is basically his, but those making the decision prefer having a married man in the position and suggest that he find a wife. The problem is that Mark already has a wife, but one he has been estranged from for 10 years. Nicole has spent the last decade in France when he husband returns to ask her assistance in pretending to be a devoted wife. Nicole, however, has a demand of her own that threatens the emotional distance that the two have kept between them.

OPINION: I loved this book because Mark and Nicole are such a compelling couple. They are both too stubborn and prideful to admit to one another that they are in love. Instead, they have allowed the distance between them to fester and keep them apart for years. Yet, each yearns to be with the other.

The story is written such that the past is interwoven with the present and this allows readers to understand what divided these two. As with most real life relationships, mistakes, keeping secrets, pride and stubborness dooms these two. These two want to be together and Mark’s promotion gives them the opportunity to breach the gulf between them.

Mark is a man who’s love for his parents and being placed in their dramas with their own families has led him to stubbornly cling to the promises he made to his father. This despite the problems it created in his marriage. His job has also kept him apart and made it difficult to connect to other people who might have questioned his choices. The solitary nature has allowed him to cling to pride rather than recognizing it as his fault.

Nicole was young when she married and her uncertainty allowed her to accept her husband’s anger rather than fight for her marriage. She is capable and unconventional, but she is waiting for Mark to show that he values her above everything else.

Just when I thought that the book was going to have to go deeply in a dark emotional journey, a mystery arises which allows Mark and Nicole to work together. The two do respect one another and just need to make themselves vulnerable to one another.

I really liked this couple and enjoyed their journey.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is another possible couple introduced and I hope we get their story before the series ends.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DUKE LIKE NO OTHER is the ninth book in the Playful Brides series. This book can certainly be read as a standalone with the caveat that there are some small appearances by characters from other books. This romance is self-contained.

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: Someone to Care

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: Someone to CareSomeone to Care (Westcott, #4) by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #4
Published by Berkley on May 1, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved this serious and mature romance between two people in their forties getting a second chance at a love that was impossible before. Balogh is a marvel at these slow developing love stories.

THE STORY: Two years after the death of the Earl of Riverdale, his family has adjusted to their changed circumstances. Except that at what should be a joyful moment, the woman who was unhappily “married” for over twenty years only to find out her marriage was illegal feels everything overwhelming her. Viola flees her family and friends intending to return home. On the way, however, she meets Marcel Lamarr. Years ago, the two had a flirtation that Viola would not pursue because she was married. Marcel is a rake, but when the two meet again, Marcel intends to finally get the woman who got away.

OPINION: I loved this book. I loved that Marc and Viola are mature characters compared to the normal heroes and heroines in historicals. They are in their early 40s and its nice to see that their story isn’t locked into a typical mature story.

Marc and Viola demonstrate that even when having adult children, a person can want to escape, to be alive and have passion and even a bit irresponsible. Even more interesting to me, these characters have pasts filled with mistakes. And their romance doesn’t go smoothly at all.

Marc is a man running from his responsibilities. He was devastated by the death of his wife, he removed himself from his children and instead lived a life of a irresponsible rake. Afraid of love, filled with grief and guilt, Marc doesn’t know how to connect to the very thing he truly wants.

Viola did everything she was supposed to do. She obeyed her father when he contracted a marriage for her. She was faithful to a man who gave nothing to her but children. Always proper, always respectable, she was horribly betrayed when she discovered that her husband was actually a bigamist and she was no wife at all.

A chance encounter between the two and the memory of the time years ago when they felt an attraction to one another brings Marc and Viola together. Viola is willing to throw off all the years of being responsible. Balance would require that eventually Marc but toss off all the years of being irresponsible. The question for most of the book is whether the two can find their way to balance.

I loved these two. Their journey is serious and takes time. I really love the Balogh romances which allow the characters time to breathe in their relationship. The story has an interesting balance where there is an initial and hot part and then the growth and chance for these characters is allowed to take the time it needs to be real and lasting.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book turns the events of the “normal” romance novel on their head with things happening in a different order than I normally expect.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SOMEONE TO CARE is the fourth book in the Westcott series. The romance is self-contained, but I believe the book is better having read the others in the series because it gives understanding to Viola’s state of mind.

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