Review: Munro

Review: MunroMunro (Immortals After Dark, #18) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #18
Published by Valkyrie Press on January 25, 2022
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 432
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved, loved, loved this book. Cole has the amazing ability to give each hero and heroine exactly the story they need. Fun, adventurous, and deeply emotionally satisfying. This book not only is a great story in itself but moves the IAD series forward in new ways.

THE STORY: Munro MacRieve has been captured by warlocks who seek to make his wolf captive to them. Munro resists all efforts by the warlocks to make his wolf appear until they bring him his fated mate, Kereny “Ren” Codrina. When she dies, Munro seeks a way to change time to find his mate again. Ren then finds herself kidnapped by Munro on her wedding day. But this human woman has no intention of surrendering to the immortal and instead seeks to find her way home.

OPINION: This was a wonderful book. Not my favorite in the series, but the exact book I needed today and the perfect book for Munro. After the break in the series for the last couple of years, I worried that Cole would not return to form. Instead, this book is on fire and the overarching story is still moving forward in amazing ways.

Munro has been foretold to have a harridan for a mate. And Ren is just lovely in this book. She is strong and independent and is not taking any guff from Munro from the moment they meet. The story begins with what readers of the IAD series already know and yet what happens immediately after might be the most heartbreaking scene in the series. In fact, this book was an emotional rollercoaster: ones I wept at, ones I wanted to read through spread fingers in anxiety, ones that made me laugh, and ones that were heart satisfying that I felt so warm and comforted.

Munro gains tremendous depth here. In comparison to Will, Munro seemed too nice, too perfect. This book so neatly sets out that Munro has his own scars from his past but also from his brother’s story. Feeling responsible for Will for years has taken its toll on Munro even as he seems the “happy” and “carefree” twin. Everything about Munro’s story with his mate push on Munro’s pain and weaknesses — which makes this book so good. I loved Munro as a character — especially as he interacts with other male characters who have shared parts of his journey.

I am so impressed with how Cole can write a story that is so of the world and yet feels fresh and new. In preparation for this book, I re-read the entire series and this book did not feel like any other in the series. That is why Cole is a master in this genre.

Readers of the series might wonder how and why the story is returning to this story after Sweet Ruin and Wicked Abyss and the Dacians books which seem to blow the IAD story out into a bigger universe. And the question also was — why give the preview of this story in MacRieve and then write a bunch of books in the middle. This book answers that question. Indeed, this book needs all of the prior books to make this story work. Nothing is wasted and it makes perfect sense that this book comes at this point in the overarching story. The revelations in this book also change and alter many of my expectations of where the stories of the characters are going. Good stuff!

Now to wait for the next book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some good twists for fans of the series. To avoid spoilers, I won’t mention which characters make appearances, but enough do to make any fan happy.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MUNRO is the eighteenth book in the Immortals After Dark series. The romance here is self-contained but this series has an overarching storyline that cannot really be appreciated here. A reader should just start at the beginning or at least read MACRIEVE.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: The Lady Has a Past

Review: The Lady Has a PastThe Lady Has a Past (Burning Cove, #5) by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #5
Published by Berkley on May 4, 2021
Pages: 352
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: This might be my favorite of the series because it felt like it brought the whole series together. I loved that we essentially get two romances in one.

THE STORY: Lyra Brazier (sister of the heroine from CLOSE UP) comes to Burning Cove and takes a job as an investigator for Raina Kirk’s investigative agency (who is seeing one of the town’s mystery men Luther Pell). Lyra’s first day of work is already shocking when Raina disappears. Lyra takes on the job of locating Raina along with Luther Pell’s associate Simon Cage. Simon is an antiquarian book dealer but has other skills useful for an investigation. Lyra and Simon pose as a married couple trying to discover what happened to Raina and fall into a series of dangerous plots.

OPINION: I loved this book. It is definitely Quick’s flavor of romantic suspense which means more suspense than romance, but because we essentially have two different romance stories (Lyra/Simon and Raina/Luther) there is plenty of romance and drama here.

The plot beats of this book were so good here. I gobbled this book quickly to find out all the twists and turns — and there were plenty. Just when the book seems to be resolving the “big mystery” there was a new twist that made the book feel like a rollercoaster (in a good way).

I liked the give and take between Lyra and Simon which really felt like a relationship between equals. The two reminded me of the old “Nick and Nora” movies with witty dialogue and definite chemistry.

For some time I have wanted more about Raina and Luther. I had hoped that the two would get a book of their own, but it seems that their relationship might be part of a continuing story in the series. The two end up in a good place here, but I am still hoping for more.

Many of the characters in the story felt a little too modern at times, but honestly, for someone who reads all three of Jayne Ann Krentz’s nom de plumes, the characters all tend to read the same these days with just some small differences in locations and time periods.

WORTH MENTIONING: Plenty of characters from the series make appearances here. For that reason, I really enjoyed this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE LADY HAS A PAST is the fifth book in the Burning Cove series. I think this book is much better if a reader has already read the other books in the series. The mystery here involves Raina Kirk, who has been a continuing character in the series along with her love interest Luther Pell. While it is not necessary to have read the other books, this story spans other books in the series and this is somewhat of a culmination of that ongoing story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Heiress in Red Silk

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: Heiress in Red SilkHeiress In Red Silk (A Duke's Heiress #2) by Madeline Hunter
Series: A Duke's Heiress #2
Published by Zebra on April 27, 2021
Genres: Historical
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable story of two people who are good at their work but not so good at relationships. By the end, I was really rooting for these two but was disappointed by the abbreviated resolution.

THE STORY: The Duke of Hollinburgh has died (perhaps murdered as some suspect) and left fortunes to several women outside the family and unknown to them. This book picks up the story about the second woman, Rosamund Jameson, who has been left money and half of a company. The other half is owned by Kevin Radner who is none too pleased by his new partner.

Rosamund designs hats and has a shop and has no intention of signing away her new business interest as Kevin wants. Instead, she insists on being a true partner which infuriates Kevin and makes him consider marriage to control Rosamund’s interest. But Kevin gets more than he bargained for in approaching Rosamund.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. The characters were often difficult to grapple with which made their romance that much better.

Rosamund is both practical and realistic and yet also innocent and perhaps a little silly about certain things. I enjoyed how many times I saw her as a fully fleshed-out person with strengths and weaknesses. So often in romance these days, the desire to show a practical woman with strength as she practices her trade and goes through life is tied tightly to those same qualities in her personal life. But that is not often how people are in real life. We all have weaknesses and frailties and having weaknesses does not take away Rosamund’s great business sense.

Kevin is also intensely good at what he does but really bad about personal relationships. Another aspect I enjoyed was how he must learn to allow Rosamund into all parts of his life because not only does she make the personal better, but her intelligence and business sense also can complement and enhance his own business.

I particularly enjoy books where both characters grow and change because of the relationship and not a book where the heroine is perfect and stays that way and the story is instead her bringing the hero to heel.

I really ended up loving these characters. My only complaint about this book is that it ended too quickly. After the final resolution of the conflicts in the book, I would have liked more with Rosamund and Kevin just being shown happy for a little while or an epilogue just so I could feel that their lives together have been cemented. I missed that in this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: The hero of this book, Kevin, is at times difficult to understand or even to like. Although there is no specific mention, because of the time period, it is pretty clear that Kevin is on the spectrum. I especially enjoyed that aspect, but he does not act or think like a “stereotypical” historical romance hero, and I’ve noticed that some reviews ding this book for that reason.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEIRESS IN RED SILK is the second book in the A Duke’s Heiress series. The romance here is self-contained and thus it can be read as a standalone although the overarching storyline is much better if this book is read after HEIRESS FOR HIRE.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC 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-stars

Review: A Treacherous Trade

Review: A Treacherous TradeA Treacherous Trade (The Fiona Mahoney Mysteries, #2) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: The Fiona Mahoney Mysteries #2
on March 8, 2022
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Goodreads
three-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Better than the first book in the series, it is more polished and cohesive. I enjoyed the mystery but the middle of the book dragged for me. Definitely reading the next in the series.

THE STORY: The second book in the series where Fiona is continuing her search for Jack the Ripper. Again prostitutes are ending up dead, but is it Jack or someone else preying upon the women? Fiona continues to interact with the men who were introduced in the first book. This is not a romance, but there are romantic elements.

OPINION: Fiona’s investigation is less bloody and more traditional detective in this book — although she doesn’t really figure out the villain until the villain is basically revealed to the reader. That being said, I enjoyed this book more than the first. What I did miss were more relationships. Instead, we got a slew of new characters to interact with which made the ending somewhat too mysterious.

The storyline here was certainly intriguing. I enjoy that Fiona goes to the less savory areas of London appropriate for someone whose obsession is a murderer who hunts prostitutes and whose job is cleaning up after death.

The book started well and ended well this time, but the middle was a bit bloated and dragged. However, I enjoyed the book as a whole and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book ends on a personal cliffhanger for Fiona.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A TREACHEROUS TRADE is the second book in the Fiona Mahoney Mystery series. The books are connected and should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars

Review: The Devil in Her Bed

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 Devil in Her BedThe Devil in Her Bed (Devil You Know, #3) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Devil You Know #3
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 9, 2021
Genres: Historical
Pages: 357
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This book was almost a great book. Unfortunately, the ending when the final secret was revealed with completely unsatisfying. The amazing journey was not ended well. But there is much to love about this book.

THE STORY: Countess Francesca Cavendish is not who she appears. The survivor from a massacre that left her alone in the world, she assumed a new identity to hunt those responsible. In her search, she crosses paths with the Devil of Dorset, mysterious and solitary, he has his own agenda. But the two of them are connected in ways that neither expected. As each pursues their goals, the question is whether either can trust the other when so many lies and secrets are between them.

OPINION: This was almost my favorite of the series — for 90 percent of the book that was true. Then the ending came and the resolution of the final secret between these characters was poorly handled. Instead of drama and resolution, the author went simplistic and trite. Definitely unfortunate and it left me questioning the long happily ever after. Just not enough resolution for me.

The rest of the book was magical. The two characters are so well matched. The lies and secrets between them seemed reciprocal and thus there was no shame in each deceiving the other — rather than betrayal, there was respect. These two are in the mold of spies that are both doing their job on opposite sides. There is nothing personal about the deception. Thus, the great competition between them was deeply satisfying. As they both reveal themselves to the other, the intimacy of knowledge and being themselves worked so well.

Francesca is a great heroine. Strong and determined and independent. She doesn’t put up with the hero’s bull, but at the same time, the connection between the two felt genuine and deep.

Perhaps that is why the ending upset me. The final secret between these two was serious and needed real resolution. The work was not done in this book rather it was rushed and unconvincing. But the book is still a good story…I’ll just have to imagine my own resolution.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book involves characters who are often lying to one another and concealing secrets.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DEVIL IN HER BED is the third book in the Devil You Know series. The series has some overlapping storylines, but the individual romances mean that each book can be read on its own.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. 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 Business of Blood

Review: The Business of BloodThe Business of Blood (Fiona Mahoney Mysteries, #1) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Fiona Mahoney Mysteries #1
Published by Oliver Heber on November 8, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 308
Goodreads
three-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This is not a romance! It is a mystery but it is dark and very bloody for a historical mystery. The book doesn’t fit well within any genre, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t really intrigued by it. The book doesn’t always work, but I see something really fresh and interesting struggling to be revealed — and Fiona is compelling. I would definitely keep reading this series.

THE STORY: Fiona Mahoney makes her way in life by — literally — cleaning up after violence and death. Haunted by the Jack the Ripper murders, Fiona continues to search for the killer. Her activities in London bring her in contact with men of various stations of life who have their own secrets. When murders that appear connected with the Ripper murders occur, Fiona’s own life appears threatened.

OPINION: I really wanted to love this book. Victorian mystery around the Jack the Ripper murders — definitely catnip for me. But this book was so uneven. Perhaps because the author is breaking out from her own typical book and crossing genres, the book doesn’t really know what it wants to be.

The mystery was meh. The reveal was shocking which isn’t always good because it felt like a bit of a cheat. The best mysteries surprise but are obvious upon reflection — this book didn’t work like that. It felt more like a thriller at that point. Also, the exposition of the book dragged the story — for me, it needed more drama and tension.

The resolution of the story was amazing well done — tension, drama, emotion, and perfect pitch. I just wish more of the book was that well done. But I did like the book overall and am definitely willing to read more of the series to see if the author finds a true voice for the story.

I really did like the character of Fiona which along with the end of the book was a highlight for me.

WORTH MENTIONING: Jack the Ripper, need I say more?

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BUSINESS OF BLOOD is the first book in the Fiona Mahoney Mysteries series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

 

three-stars

Review: All Scot and Bothered

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: All Scot and BotheredAll Scot and Bothered (Devil You Know, #2) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Devil You Know #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on September 29, 2020
Genres: Historical
Pages: 395
Goodreads
one-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: I was bored by this book. The story, the hero and heroine, nothing interested me. I felt the story was more interested in complaining about women’s role in the world rather than the romance.

THE STORY: Cecelia Teague has a secret benefactor from whom she inherits a girls’ school — and a gambling establishment. This unwittingly places her in opposition to one of her best friend’s brother-in-law, Cassius Gerard Ramsay, Lord Chief Justice of the High Court, who has made it his mission to investigate the establishment and bring to justice those who are engaging in illegal activities. Taking on a disguise, Cecelia confronts Ramsay who finds himself attracted to both the innocent Cecelia and her alter ego.

OPINION: Disappointing book. There is no fire here. The book was dull and so were the characters. The book feels like the author wanted to tell a story about a woman rejecting conventions of her time and then grafted the romance upon the story. As a result, neither the characters nor the romance had any interest.

I read romance books for the romance between the characters — not about the self-actualization of women or their feminist ideas. I’m not against either of those things, but if the romance is not primary, then it is not really a romance to me. Yes, there is the relationship focus in the book, but the characters felt bland.

This is the worst of Byrne’s books I’ve read. The decline from the Victorian Rebels series is serious and I would not recommend reading this one. It seemed rather pointless.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a darling little girl who is central to the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ALL SCOT AND BOTHERED is the second book in the Devil You Know series. The romance here is self-contained and while characters from the first book are in this book, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 1.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC 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.

 

one-half-stars

Review: Last Guard

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: Last GuardLast Guard (Psy-Changeling Trinity, #5; Psy-Changeling, #20) by Nalini Singh
Published by Berkley on July 20, 2021
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Singh does “damaged” heroes and heroines better than almost anyone. How two people who to the world (and themselves) appear different find the person who brings wholeness and acceptance to one another. Combining the ongoing drama of the overarching storyline with the deeply personal connection between these two made this an immensely satisfying read.

THE STORY: Canto Mercant, mysterious and fiercely loyal, approaches the cold and dangerous Payal Rao about the collapse of the PsyNet. In joining forces, the two also confront their own pasts and the weaknesses of mind and body. Canto has remained a hidden part of the Mercant family, rejected by his own father, as his spinal injury communicated imperfection and weakness during Silence. Now that Silence has fallen, the “imperfect” must be brought out of the shadows.

OPINION: The inclusiveness of Singh’s Psy-Changeling world always takes my breath away — optimistic and never heavy-handed, the world is deeply imperfect but there are good people working to correct the flaws. (At the same time, there are plenty of evil forces out to create chaos).

I loved the sweet and fierce relationship between Canto and Payal. The deep acceptance between them. While there have been similar relationships between “broken” people, this one has its own unique qualities that have echoes of other stories but is also quite different. Different challenges, different personalities. Each couple approaches their challenges in different ways which keep these stories fresh and interesting.

The story builds upon the prior stories in the Psy-Changeling universe in new ways raising new challenges to the world. At this point in the series, I wonder how Singh will possibly be able to resolve all these issues, but I have faith because Singh so beautifully gathered the strands in the first “season” of the Psy-Changeling world.

Canto is one of my favorite heroes now. He’s got his own quirks, but his intense loyalty to Payal and his willingness to serve as Payal’s “knight” and let her shine may be a precursor of the female “alphas” whose stories are yet to be told.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lots of cameos from characters from the Psy-Changeling & Trinity series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LAST GUARD is the fifth book in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. The Trinity series is a direct spin-off of the Psy-Changeling series and thus this book can also be considered the twentieth book in that series. The romance here is self-contained, but the overarching plot is a continuation of the story in the Trinity series and is much better when read at least as part of the Trinity series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. 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: Devil in Disguise

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: Devil in DisguiseDevil in Disguise (The Ravenels, #7) by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravanels #7
Published by Avon on July 27, 2021
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

 

“He would relive that kiss in a thousand dreams. It had been as unlike anything that had happened in his life before, as it would be from anything that came after.”

FINAL DECISION: I guessed the twist in this one almost immediately, but I loved it anyway because this is a wonderful story of two people who fall in love and the plot is almost superfluous. Kleypas does so much was characters who are entirely likable and yet make the romance compelling.

THE STORY: Lady Merritt Sterling, a widow, is running her husband’s business when she meets Kier MacRae, a Scottish distiller. From the moment the two meet there is something between them. But the class differences between them weigh heavily on Kier who does his best to keep his distance from the tempting widow. Merritt, on the other hand, knows from experience that regrets are corrosive. At the same time, someone seems determined to kill Kier.

OPINION: This book just warmed my soul. One this I loved about it was its context. In many ways, this is the story about family, and I loved how the couple here is supported and loved by the families in the story. The romance is luscious, incredibly sexy, but also has a sweetness and loveliness that I really enjoyed. The story warmed my heart as most of the conflicts were external and these are just two really good people. Perhaps life and society and villains might try and keep them apart, but they are decent and kind to one another.

Kier is just adorable (who doesn’t love a Scotsman who is hardworking and responsible and a big handsome man). He is respectful to Merritt and even when he doesn’t see a future for them, he is not dismissive of her thoughts. Indeed, he treats her with respect and talks to her. At the same time, he isn’t a pushover who takes all his cues from her.

Merritt is also refreshing as a heroine. Strong and independent, she also understands sacrifice and compromise. She doesn’t insist on her own way — even if Kier does consider her fondly as “bossy”.

Sometimes I love dramatic angsty books, and sometimes I love books like this: really good people who are making the best choices they can.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of Kleypas will get glimpses of plenty of her characters from previous books. Merritt is the daughter of the couple from IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN and we also get more of Sebastian and Evie from DEVIL IN WINTER. There are plenty of updates all around!

CONNECTED STORIES: DEVIL IN DISGUISE is the seventh book in the Ravenels series. This series, however, has become deeply entwined with the Wallflowers series. All the books in the Ravenels series that start with “Devil” are in essence spin-offs of DEVIL IN WINTER. This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend reading both series — they are fantastic.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC 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.

 

five-stars

Review: Guild Boss

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: Guild BossGuild Boss by Jayne Castle
Published by Berkley Books on November 16, 2021
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 304
Goodreads

 

FINAL DECISION: This book was just fun. An action-adventure paranormal sci-fi futuristic mystery. The conflict here is external concerning the plot so the romance just felt sweet and enjoyable. Loved the strong characters — and who can resist a pizza-eating dust bunny?

THE STORY: A return to Harmony, a colony of earth now cut off where people have various psychic powers interacting with the alien world. Lucy Bell disappears into the tunnels under the city and is rescued by Gabriel Jones, one of the Guild Hunters. While Lucy insists that she was drugged and kidnapped, people believe that she got drunk after a party and wandered into the tunnels. The incident ruins Lucy’s reputation in her profession and months later when Gabriel comes back into her life, she is working as a guide on a studio tour. Now the Guild Boss of Illusion Town, Gabriel reconnects with Lucy as the two discover what happened the night Lucy disappeared.

OPINION: This book was deeply satisfying for me. It was light and fun (although there is a serious storyline — it’s not a comedy). It had a fun action-adventure vibe that I needed right now. I admit to being a huge Arcane fan and love whenever connections to that series come up. In this book Castle leans into the connection which was gratifying.

Nobody writes the “corporate” romance better than Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Jayne Castle) and this book moves the Guild more towards a polished organization. As someone who reads all three of Krentz’s different time periods, this book just felt like a great synthesis of all of them. The reveal of the significance of the book’s title was fun and just lifted the story with a little comedy.

I loved Gabriel who is put in his place by the strong Lucy. Their relationship has real equality, and there is chemistry and Castle always has great dialogue that builds a great relationship. These two are obviously meant for one another and much of the conflict is external involving the mystery, but it works here.

The only reason that this isn’t a perfect 5 star for me is that frankly there are other Castle books from this series that I love better. This one was really good, enjoyable, a rollicking adventure, and hit both the tone that I wanted and also had some great nostalgia.

I’m so glad that Castle is back writing this series and look forward to more.

WORTH MENTIONING: Gabriel is definitely one of those Jones for fans of Jayne Ann Krentz’s Arcane series. For fans of that series (who may be disappointed that Krentz abandoned the storyline in her contemporary romantic suspense), some of the past storylines are picked up here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: GUILD BOSS is the fourteenth book in the Harmony/Ghost Hunters series. The book can be read as a standalone although a new reader will need to catch up on some of the worldbuilding rules. This book is also connected with the Arcane series (which spans all three of Castle’s noms de plume — Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick, and Jayne Castle).

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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