Review: Loyalty in Death

Review: Loyalty in DeathLoyalty in Death (In Death, #9) by J.D. Robb
Published by Berkley on October 1st 1999
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 358
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this book because of the great development in the characters and the relationships. The mystery was good and I liked that there was a sense of urgency that moved the story along.

THE STORY: Eve’s newest criminal is a bomber by the name of Cassandra who intends to brag about the crime by sending letters to Eve to engage her. Eve must race the clock to find out the motives of the bomber before those she cares about are the target.

OPINION: The highlight of this book is really the character development that happens. Eve and Roarke are on fire in this one. I prefer when Eve and Roarke are working closely in the stories. Yes, she is a cop and shouldn’t be relying on her husband all the time, but I read these books more for the relationships than the mysteries so I want to see more of Eve and Roarke together as much as possible.

In this book, Peabody is a significant part of the story as her brother comes to visit and gets into some trouble of his own. I liked that the series is branching out and making other characters have significant story lines of their own.

The mystery in this case is a bit strange, but well constructed as things end up fitting together in the end.  This book also has one of the most dramatic endings of a book in the series. A great set piece.

WORTH MENTIONING: Peabody and McNab!

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOYALTY IN DEATH is the ninth book in the In Death series. Each book in this series has a self-contained mystery although there are ongoing character development issues throughout the series. This particular book, however, can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Dearest Ivie

Review: Dearest IvieDearest Ivie (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15.5) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #15.5
Published by Ballantine on March 13th 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 145
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this one. Pretty much self-contained, this is a romance without a doubt. The emphasis is on the couple and despite the short length, it manages to be sexy and sweet and deeply emotional.

THE STORY: Ivie is a vampire and a nurse at Haven’s clinic. She is out at a bar with her cousin when a vampire walks into her life. Silas is immediately attracted to Ivie, but Ivie is reluctant to get involved with the aristocratic Silas. When the two end up spending time together, their attraction and relationship grows. Silas, however, tells Ivie that their relationship can only be temporary as he is returning to the Old Country. Ivie has to decide whether to enjoy the present or protect herself from hurt.

OPINION: I loved the story of Ivie and Silas. The story was sweet and romantic and incredibly emotional at times.

Ivie is a woman who is strong and fierce. I loved her perseverance, her intelligence and her compassion.  I also was quite amused by her family, and I liked that we got to see a different group of vampires in the BDB world. Ivie is the active participant in the story and in fact is the central hub of what happens. She isn’t passive, but rather makes the world change.

Silas is a gentleman. His manner and his personality is kind. (But he’s definitely no wimpy hero, but he needs Ivie’s persistence). I enjoyed the essential kindness and goodness of these characters.

There was something I really enjoyed about this story because while there are some dark moments (a few that made me shed tears) I thought the story as a whole was lighter and more positive and focused on the romance than many of the BDB books.

While I love many of the BDB books, they are dense and complicated and edged in darkness. This book, while it has its dark moments, is lightened by characters who are brighter and less dark than many of the BDB characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a few appearances by BDB characters (enough to show that this story takes place in that universe), but the emphasis here is on the personal story between Ivie and Silas.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEAREST IVIE is a novella which is book 15.5 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This book can be read apart from the series with just some basic knowledge about vampires, however, it falls nicely in the series for fans.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Hold Back the Dark

Review: Hold Back the DarkHold Back the Dark by Kay Hooper
Series: Bishop/Special Crimes Unit #18
Published by Berkley Books on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 352
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I ended up tremendously disappointed in this book which began as an amazing story with a whole bunch of characters I was interested in, but ended up being resolved (mostly offscreen) in the space of only a couple of pages. In fact, the book felt like a half book with the author’s synopsis at the end. I’m hoping there will be more with this group in the future.

THE STORY: Something is happening in the town of Prosperity. A call has gone out from a mysterious source calling psychics from all over to the town. A series of vicious murders with unlikely killers takes over the town. The SCU along with a rag tag group of people who have rejected joining the SCU must join together to keep the evil contained in Prosperity and find the source before the evil expands.

OPINION: Until the last chapter of this book, I really loved it. It might have been a 5 star book, but definitely a 4 star one. Then the entire book just abruptly ended with a summary resolution that read more like a synopsis than an actual ending for the book.

This book was disappointing and perhaps one of the worst of the series because it completely abandoned the actual storytelling of the paranormal events. The book felt like it should have had another 100 pages instead of just ending the entire plot in a couple of pages with events that were told in a summary fashion.

I was let down because I believed that the beginning of this book showed incredible promise. The book introduces a whole new cast of characters that are intriguing and their interactions show great possibilities. I loved the return of Galen who is now a more reflective, damaged and dark character. And I loved seeing Hollis and Reese (though disappointed that significant events have occurred offstage once again). All the new possibilities raised my interest in the story and I expected that after all the introductions that there would be some real exploration of what is happening in Prosperity. But this book really feels like it is missing its third act. Instead of the well thought out and plotted ending, we only get a cursory explanation of events without any drama or suspense.

This book might be a gateway to more stories (I hope so because I loved the characters), but this book as a whole was a letdown.

WORTH MENTIONING: The blurb of this book is misleading as it focuses on Katie Cole who is merely a bit character and doesn’t really have much to do with the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOLD BACK THE DARK is the eighteenth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. I don’t believe these books can operate as standalones because there are numerous overlapping characters, references to prior cases and (especially in this case) some overarching storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: My Lady’s Choosing

Review: My Lady’s ChoosingMy Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran, Larissa Zageris
on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Goodreads
four-stars

MY LADY’S CHOOSING is a novelty book where the reader gets to make choices as the story goes on changing the outcomes of the story depending on the choices.

In the early 1980s, Choose Your Own Adventure stories were a popular series with children. This book updates that concept for today’s romance books. The book is a novelty so a reader should not approach the book expecting amazing stories. Instead, the stories are funny and a loving parody of the romance genre. The book takes a series of romance book tropes and characters (the brooding aristocrat, the sexy Scotsman, the governess, supernatural characters, sexy garden times, exotic locations) and gives the reader a choice of what to do at critical and not so critical times.

I found the book amusing and tried several variations by coming back to a juncture and trying different options. The stories were lovingly amusing. They didn’t mock the romance genre, but rather made the reader part of an inside joke.

I really enjoyed this book, but a reader must approach it with a sense of humor and a willingness to participate in the fun.

I want to note that I thought it was especially nice that the heroine (the reader) is active in the story and one of the options includes a ff romance which was and unexpected and welcome option.

Rating: 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Hellion

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 HellionThe Hellion (Wicked Wallflowers, #1) by Christi Caldwell
Series: Wicked Wallflowers #1
Published by Montlake on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 295
Goodreads
three-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This story was serviceable and solid, but I wanted more from the romance. There could have been more angst or more sexy romance. Instead, I just ended up wanting more from a decent book.

THE STORY: Cleopatra Killoran has agreed to sacrifice herself to a marriage to a man of the ton in order to protect her family. She has even agreed to be sponsored by her family’s enemies in order to find a husband who is willing to accept a woman of questionable background who can bring only a fortune. Adair Thorne doesn’t trust this woman who is one of his family’s enemies. He intends to watch her closely while she is embedded with his family. But soon her finds himself watching this complicated woman for other reasons, but a reason for which might bring betrayal down on his family.

OPINION: This was an enjoyable read, but lacked something in its drama and intensity based on the way the story developed. I liked the book, but wanted more.

Adair is a hero that I wanted to know more about. Although we get his story recited, I never felt connected with him on a emotional basis. His inner life remains a mystery in this story and thus I felt the story lacked some of the intense connection between him and Cleo that the story really wanted.

I loved the setup. I loved that Cleo is a woman who was raised on the streets and has become strong and a dangerous character in her own right. Too much of the book, however, explains rather than engaging the reader in the deep emotions between these characters. This might have been an extraordinary book rather than just a good read.

What is here, however, is good. I enjoyed the story and the potential of this story was immense. The characters are interesting in concept and the story has some great possibilities from the beginning.

It is a compliment to the potential of this book that I wanted more intensity and emotion from the story than I got. I enjoyed the book and it is an essential part of the Sinful Brides world.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book sets up the series which now focuses on the Killoran family.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HELLION is the first book in the Wicked Wallflowers series. This series is, however, connected with the Sinful Brides series. There are overlapping characters, especially in this book which operates as a bridge between the two series as both these characters appeared in the Sinful Brides series. I think this book fits better as part of the prior series in order that all the relationships can be understood.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare a 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: Chesapeake Blue

Review: Chesapeake BlueChesapeake Blue (Chesapeake Bay Saga, #4) by Nora Roberts
Published by Berkley on January 1st 2002
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 357
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable read if somewhat forgettable in the end. The story works fine as I was reading it, but there is nothing lasting or intense in the story to make it a keeper.

THE STORY: Eighteen years since Seth Quinn came was rescued from his negligent and abusive mother to come live with the Quinns, Seth has returned home after a stint in Europe where he honed his skills as an artist. When he returns, he meets Dru Whitcomb Banks, who has shed her rich family to open a florist shop. As Dru and Seth get to know one another, Seth’s past won’t stay hidden as he has to deal with problems that arise while coaxing a woman who has been betrayed and finds it hard to trust and make connections.

OPINION: This book was difficult for me to rate. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, I really liked seeing the Quinn siblings and their families. I even liked Seth and Dru as a couple as they discussed their issues. But ultimately while I enjoyed this book, I don’t think it stands up against other books that I have read. The storyline works, but isn’t compelling enough and the characters aren’t interesting enough for this to be a book that calls for me to re-read it.

Seth is a little too good, perhaps. (Except for his blind spot for which he is rather wrongheaded). I thought he and Dru were a nice match and I really liked her character. But nothing in this case really goes deep. The characters drama and hurts just don’t feel intense. I did think their sexy encounters when Seth was painting Dru were the best part of the book. That felt emotional and intense.

I also really enjoyed the relationships between the brothers. That was a highlight of the entire series and repeated here with even more emotional resonance.

I think readers of the series should definitely read this one as it adds to the series in a nice way. I just walked away wanting more emotional connection and intensity.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’ve always wished that this book either resolved Aubrey’s story as well or that Roberts had written her story. She ended up being a really interesting character.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHESAPEAKE BLUE is the fourth and final book in the Chesapeake Bay Saga. This book was a coda to the original trilogy and thus really depends upon the knowledge in the first three books in the series. I don’t think the plot works well without knowledge of those books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon

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: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a DragonEight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #3
Published by St Martins Pr on March 27th 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 448
Goodreads
four-stars

Rule Number One: When a dragon takes you for a ride, hold on tight and never let go.

FINAL DECISION: Romance, political intrigue and a big dose of humor make this book particularly enjoyable to read. The focus here is more on the mystery of what is going on, but I really enjoyed the humor combined with the romance with Silas and Gwen.

THE STORY: As one of the Embraced (those born with magical powers), Gwenmore becomes enmeshed in political intrigue and curses when she is abducted by a dragon when protecting a young girl. An elf, Gwen has the curious ability to hear the dragons. That talent, plus another one, makes her valuable to General Silas Dravenko, who is trying to prove that misdeeds and not curses are what threaten his people. He intends to use Gwen to find the danger, but he is slowly seduced by the elf — who should be an enemy but shatters all his walls.

OPINION: I really enjoyed the tone of this book. The book isn’t a comedy, but it has a lighthearted and fun tone and made me smile.

A great portion of the book is about the mystery and political intrigue going on. i thought that story was really strong. Readers of the series will see that the stakes are rising and what is going on in the shadows is becoming more dangerous and blatant. But the end game still remains a mystery.

While I ultimately enjoyed the romance, I did think the beginning was too instant love, but thankfully the relationship is given some time to develop. Still things happen quickly. But the humor between Silas and Gwen make it all worth it. I loved their interactions which were sexy and funny at the same time.

There is a refreshing vulnerability for each of these characters. Silas has a tender heart even with his strength and cleverness. I also liked how Gwen grows during the story as she gains confidence and takes on a more active role in her own life.

The book has a similar basic storyline as the others in the series, but the individual flourishes mean that this book is not repetitive.  Also — dragons.

Even three books into the series, I still want to see more of these characters. There are  still a bunch of mysteries left to be revealed.

WORTH MENTIONING: The ongoing story about the Chameleon is picked up and continued in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: EIGHT SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING A DRAGON is the third book in the Embraced series. While the romance in this book is self contained, there are overarching relationships that make this book better read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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

 

four-stars

Review: The Secret to Flirting

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 Secret to FlirtingThe Secret of Flirting (Sinful Suitors, #5) by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Sinful Suitors #5
Published by Pocket Books on March 27th 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this one. Jumping off from real historical events, this book is improbable at times, but the relationship between Fulkham and Monique is testy and witty and quite lovely.

THE STORY: Spymaster Gregory Vyse, Baron Fulkham, is at a pivotal moment of his career when he is to participate in the choosing of the first royalty of Belgium. One of the contenders, Princess Aurore of Chanay, is the favorite. But Fulkham also believes her an imposter as he thinks he met her three years before when she was Monique Servais, an accomplished actress. Fulkham is entangled with trying to figure out what she is up to when an attempted assassination and Fulkham’s own attraction to the purported princess threaten his career.

OPINION: The one was very enjoyable because of the relationship between the characters. I especially enjoyed the witty banter and verbal combat between the hero and heroine. These two are working on outsmarting one another from the moment they meet.

The strength of the story in this book is clearly that it is based on real events. Although, as acknowledged in the author’s note, liberties are taken with the storyline, by giving this book true historical events gives it a grounding in its historical times. The book always feels time relevant with the issues and concerns of the times.

Monique is a woman who is accomplished, but her desire to care for her grandmother leads her into intrigue and Fulkham’s world. I really enjoyed the combination of her worldliness and her naivety at the machinations of others. Her dignity and cleverness was a good match for Fulkham. And while some of the events in the story seem unbelievable, her innate believable actions as a character allow the events that seem improbable to work in the story. I liked Monique.

Fulkham is a man with many secrets — some his country’s and some his own. He becomes entwined with Monique as he tries to figure out what she is doing. He is a man who acts carefully and deliberately — except when it comes to Monique. I loved that she gets under his skin and makes him act in all the ways he never expects. Fulkham’s ultimate willingness to do whatever it takes to be with Monique is romantic and a fine comeuppance for the spymaster.

I really enjoyed this book. The pacing and development of the plot and the romance just worked so well for me. It never felt rushed or lagging. The series is coming to a conclusion on a definite high note.

WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of the series, there are small updates about the other couples and the setup for the final novella of the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SECRET TO FLIRTING is the fifth book in the Sinful Suitors series. While there are overlapping characters, this book can be read on its own as it provides all the information about the characters that you need to enjoy it.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare a 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: The Choice

Review: The ChoiceThe Choice (Doms of Her Life: Heavenly Rising 1) by Isabella LaPearl, Jenna Jacob, Shayla Black
Published by Dream Words, LLC on March 27th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Goodreads
five-stars

“It’s going to get messy, emotional, and complicated. I hope you’re ready for that.”

FINAL DECISION: Hot, hot, hot. Just the beginning of the story between Beck, Seth and Heavenly, but definitely a great start. (Readers should be aware that this book ends on the cliffhanger, and there will be more books about this threesome).

THE STORY: Heavenly Young has a complicated life. She is a new nursing student, she is caring for her ill father and she is taking any job she can to make ends meet. Things become even more complicated when she catches the eyes of two dominate alpha men — both of whom want her but cannot stand one another. Dr. Ken Beckman is a surgeon who also happens to be a sadist. Having a relationship with an innocent and sweet woman is against all his rules, but Beck can’t stop himself from obsessing over Heavenly. Seth Cooper, private eye, takes one look at the sweet Heavenly and wants her in bed. But Seth finds himself drawn in by the woman he begins to know. Torn between two men who want her to make a choice between them, Heavenly cannot bring herself to choose.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this one. After reading the first trio romance by these authors, I knew to expect the cliffhanger and thus I wasn’t disappointed by the ending and the loose ends. And I think I love this couple more than Raine, Liam and Macen (DOMS OF HER LIFE) because the two men here are so funny in their competition with one another. This book feels lighter and more amusing and while there is clearly drama to come, I’m hoping that some of the humor remains.

Heavenly was slightly annoying to me as this book began. Too naive, too willing to lie to hide things that aren’t particularly worth hiding, but as the book continues I begin to see the woman who will be emerging as the series continues. (I also have to admit that her naivete made for some amusing situations). I think at some point, she is going to pull her two men by the ears (or another unmentionable part) and force them to her will.

Beck and Sean are similar men in many ways. They both clearly have some darkness in their pasts that are going to arise as the series continues, but here I found the guys funny and sweetly baffled by Heavenly. These guys are also intensely competitive and nowhere set up for the idea of a long term menage relationship. In many ways, this first book is about “the choice” that these men have to make.

I appreciated that this book allows the relationships to build in a slow fashion. Everyone is introduced and we really get the chance to see what Heavenly sees in each of these guys and also see these men begin to build a friendship with one another.

The book is hot, but I didn’t find the sex to be the focus here. It really was about relationship. The highlight was the heat and the humor. Even the cliffhanger was a gentle one so I can look forward to the next book instead of cursing the ending.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a mmf menage with the focus on the woman in the story. The two men are not involved with one another.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE CHOICE is the first book in the Doms of Her Life: Heavenly Rising series. This series is, however, connected with the Doms of Her Life series and partially takes place concurrent with that series. You can read this one without having read that series, but there are overlapping characters. And this menage is even introduced in that series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via the author in order to prepare a 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: The Undercover Duke

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 Undercover DukeThe Undercover Duke (The 1797 Club Book 6) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #6
Published by Passionate Pen on March 27th 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 247
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this book because of the relationship between Lucas and Diana. Some of the historical reality was lacking, but the cautious and slow unfolding of these characters made this book an enjoyable journey.

THE STORY: Lucas Vincent, Duke of Willowby, has been a spy for the crown for years. Grievously injured in his last assignment, Lucas is sent to Diana Oakford to recover. Diana is the daughter of one of the men killed in the mission where Lucas was injured. Having been burned by the spies who surrounded her father before, Diana knows better than to give her heart to such a man. The attraction between her and Lucas, however, burns from the beginning. And as they agree to an affair, each believes that they can keep the relationship on a physical level, but things get complicated (on many levels) as they work together to find the traitor who almost killed Lucas.

OPINION: I have really been enjoying this series. The stories, while serious in tone, are not particularly deep or disturbing. They are a nice read that I can finish in a day and which don’t haunt me for days after. The books emphasize the relationship between the characters and the plot really works in service of that relationship.

Diana and Lucas are similar characters. Pain in their lives has taught them to keep their distance. As they start their relationship, there is plenty of sex but little relationship. Usually I dislike these instant sex books, but it really works here. The sex begins to allow these characters to open up to one another. Then there are small moments of revelation and caring that draw them out of their self-protective shells.

Because much of the book takes place solely between these two characters, the relationship really worked for me. There are hot encounters but also moments of tenderness.

Then there is the spy plot. Some of the resolution seemed obvious, but there were some interesting surprises. There isn’t a lot of “story” in the plot, but I also enjoyed that because while I certainly like deep plot filled books, I really prefer books where the relationship is the focus and gets the primary focus in the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is front loaded with the sexual encounters which lessen as the plot picks up.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE UNDERCOVER DUKE is the sixth book in the 1797 Club series. There are overlapping characters, but this book can be read completely as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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

 

four-stars