Review: Shadow Reaper

Review: Shadow ReaperShadow Reaper (Shadow, #2) by Christine Feehan
Series: Shadow, #2
Published by Jove on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal
Pages: 480
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This was really enjoyable — perhaps more for the suspense and action part of the story than the romance. Nevertheless, I think this is a fun (not funny) action story with an intense “fated” romance.

THE STORY: Ricco Ferraro is a shadow rider. The shadow riders are assassins who do justice by using their ability to travel via shadows to do their work. Ricco has been becoming more reckless and that worries his family. When he meets Mariko Majo, Ricco instantly knows that she is a woman who is special because she is one of the few women who can mate with a shadow rider and produce children. Mariko’s mysterious background intrigues Ricco, but the question is why has Mariko come to Ricco and what danger has she brought to the Ferraro family?

OPINION: This was an adventurous story as the Ferraro family is under attack and the question is why and who is behind it. I thought the pacing and depictions of the family was a highlight of the story. The story is suspenseful and also a bit graphic at times because this family is not sitting around doing knitting. The story is gritty and dark at times with a lot of violence.

Ricco is a playboy who has gotten bored with his own life: fast women and fast cars. When he meet Mariko, things begin to change for him. I do like that Ricco is certainly a family man who loves and cares for his family. That quality is important especially because the family verges on being an organized crime family (or at least that is the way they are viewed by outsiders).

Mariko is a woman who has been ground down by everyone around her for most of her life. Yet she is a woman of integrity. Like many of Feehan’s heroines, she is sexually inexperienced and sometimes quite a bit naive about her sexuality. There is quite a bit of dominant alpha male and submissive woman in this book although the book acknowledges a sense where the roles are reversed — even though Ricco is ostensibly in charge, he is only responding to Mariko’s wishes. This is most clearly expressed in the Japanese rope bondage that the two engage in. This was a kink that I haven’t read about before in romance books and I thought it was well explained and used through the book especially because it is clear that there is an artistic side and a sexual side and the book explores the characters moving from one vision to another.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’m still waiting for the Romeo and Juliet story that has to be coming later in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHADOW REAPER is the second book in the Shadow series. This book can be read as a standalone although the world building descriptions are in the first book so a reader would have to figure that part out.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Misadventures of a Virgin

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

Review: Misadventures of a VirginMisadventures of a Virgin (Misadventures, #14) by Meredith Wild
Series: Misadventures #14
Published by Waterhouse Press, LLC on November 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this second chance at love story. The story is sweet and its depth reflects its short length, but I liked the characters and found the story interesting.

THE STORY: June Bell has spent her life helping her father in his hotel. His plans to expand in the small town have been stymied by the McCasker family with whom June’s father has had a feud with for years. Now Kase McCasker has returned to town. Four years ago he left after a scorching kiss between June and Kase and the revelation of a secret that sent Kase’s world spinning. Kase has returned and June might be the only reason that Kase is willing to consider her father’s deal.

OPINION: This was an enjoyable and easy to read story. I thought that the connection between these two was good and there was some drama as to what Kase’s motives are. I liked the progress of the story and there was enough plot twists to keep the story interesting. The connection between Kase and June pre-exists the beginning of this story so this is really about these two rediscovering one another.  There is a sweetness to the story combined with some real heat in the sexual encounters. That combination makes a good story. This book is one of my favorites in the series so far.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES OF A VIRGIN is the fourteenth book in the Misadventures series. The series books are complete standalones with no overlapping characters or places.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide 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: Cowboy’s Reckoning

Review: Cowboy’s ReckoningCowboy's Reckoning (Cahill Ranch, #2.5) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Cahill Ranch #2.5
Published by Harlequin Books on October 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 70
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I liked these characters and their interaction. I just wish the story was longer because I found these characters very interesting.

THE STORY: Billie Dee Rhodes has come to Montana from Texas running from her past and looking for a new start (and maybe a cowboy). Taking the job as the cook for the Stagecoach Saloon, Billie Dee has enjoyed her daily talks with Henry Larson, a retired rancher. When danger from Billie Dee’s past comes to town, it is a question whether they will have time to have anything else develop between them.

OPINION: I loved these characters. It is rare for there to be a good romance with more mature characters. My biggest disappointment with this story is that it is too short. I could have read an entire full length book with these two. They are sweet and funny together.

Henry is a widower with three grown children and the scene where he is getting ready for his first date with Billie Dee was so funny. I loved seeing them get to know one another and also begin to reveal their secrets.

There is a short suspense plot incorporated in this story which worked very well. I really liked how Billie Dee and Henry start out their romance. I only wish we had some heat in the story and for things to go further than it did in this book.

I would definitely read another “part two” novella about these two and I wish there had been more pages to read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS: COWBOY’S RECKONING is book 2.5 in the Cahill Ranch series.  While there are small appearances by characters from the series, this novella can be read on its own.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Born in Shame

Review: Born in ShameBorn in Shame (Born In trilogy #3) by Nora Roberts
Series: Born in Trilogy #3
Published by Paw Prints on April 9th 2009
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I’m split on this book. I loved so much of it because I loved the first two books of the series, but I thought the romance here wasn’t nearly as developed or as good as the others in the series.

THE STORY: New York graphic artist Shannon Bodine has her life turned upside down when her mother reveals that Shannon is the result of an affair with a married man. Losing both parents in a year and discovering that her entire history was a lie, Shannon feels adrift in her life. When her half sisters in Ireland reach out to her, Shannon decides to travel to Ireland to meet them and see if she can recover her sense of balance in her life. In Ireland, Shannon meets Murphy Muldoon, a man wedded to the land his family has farmed for generations. The attraction between them is immediate although Shannon does not want to get involved in a temporary relationship that she knows will end when she returns to New York.

OPINION: This book frustrates me in many ways. I loved so much about it. As a continuation of the series, I would give the book a very high rating. I loved seeing the couples from the previous books and I enjoyed the resolution of the three sisters’ story. That familial part of the book was incredibly satisfying as their relationship developed in this book.

But in many ways the time spent on the developing relationship between Maggie, Brianna and Shannon was robbed from the romance between Shannon and Murphy. Indeed, I think that is why there is an “insta-love” destined element to their romance — the book couldn’t both develop their relationship in a deep fashion and also the sisters’ relationship.

The relationships between the couples in the first two books took place over months and thus the sacrifices they agreed to make felt reasonable and natural. Here, Shannon is in Ireland for just over a month but is willing to toss everything away — it just didn’t feel as natural as the other books. Instead, I think the book relied on its paranormal crutch too much to explain the intensity of the relationship.

I loved Murphy — who is just adorable. A gentle and talented and completely centered man. He knows who he is and is satisfied with his life. He also knows exactly what he wants when he sees Shannon.  Shannon was more prickly and more difficult to like (she is similar to Maggie in that sense), but by the end of the book I understood her and even liked her. I especially liked seeing her relationships develop in this book.

The best part of this book is the relationships between the six main characters in the series. Whether it is the women bonding or the men drinking themselves silly or the caring “sister”-“brother” relationships between the men and the women, I loved seeing this family be created. That is the highlight of this series as a whole. This is the creation of the next generation.

But I still find the relationship between Murphy and Shannon to be more shallowly explored than the other two books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Small spoiler that this book has some paranormal elements although it is not the main part of the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BORN IN SHAME is the third and final book in the Born in Trilogy. This book should only be read after the first two in the series because it resolves the overarching story in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Born in Ice

Review: Born in IceBorn in Ice (Born In Trilogy, #2) by Nora Roberts
Series: Born in Trilogy #2
Published by Berkley on November 1st 1996
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book of the trilogy, BORN IN ICE has two characters whose past has kept them from moving forward with their lives. I loved how Brianna wins over the wandering Gray with a quiet simplicity.

THE STORY: Brianna Concannon has made a life for herself after converting her family home into a bed and breakfast inn. The younger sister, the dutiful daughter and the one always seeking to make peace in her family, Brianna is looking forward to a quieter winter with only one scheduled guest. Grayson Thane is a famous mystery writer who has come to Ireland seeking peace and quiet and inspiration for his next novel. Gray enjoys his gypsy life traveling from place to place working on his writing. Attracted to Brianna, he wants her but knows that things will end and he will move on.

OPINION: This is my favorite book in the series because I loved both the hero and the heroine in this book from the start.

Brianna is the peacemaker in the family. She has always tried to smooth over the difficulties in her family and yet this book shows how she has been effected by the discord between her parents and the resulting familial difficulties. Despite or perhaps because of this, Brianna has sought to make a peaceful domestic atmosphere that she has translated into her small business of her inn. I loved how Brianna uses the domestic arts to make a “home” for travelers. She is the “ice” in the story because of her place in her family and also because of her quiet personality. This book reveals secrets in her past which result her re-evaluating her life. Into that disruption comes Gray who pushes Brianna from her safe space.

Gray is a man who is so scarred by his past that he has built a great life, but one of a nomad with few personal connections. He sees this as a kind of freedom, but he is challenged by Brianna and the town where she lives. A man who insists that he will not stay when he starts an affair might seem callous, but Gray is so open and honest and caring that I understood him as a character rather than thinking he was a jerk. This book also delves deep into the writing process (something the author certainly understands) and I loved the depictions of how Gray works as an artist.

When I think of this series, I always think about the characters sense of place in Ireland and also how they all connect to the artistic process. There is such an expansive understanding of artistry in this book. Gray is the obvious artist because of his writing, but Brianna is an artist in her own right as she cooks and knits and gardens. The appreciation for these arts is something that I appreciate in this book because such great talent is something that is often overlooked.

This book has a small subplot of mystery which fits the story because of Gray’s profession, but this book is really focused on the relationship between Brianna and Gray. The subplots only serve the purpose of the romance which is exactly how I like my romance books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of the first book in the series will get a nice update on Maggie and Rogan.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BORN IN ICE is the second book in the Born in Trilogy. While the romance here is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone, this series is meant to be read together as there are overlaps in characters and an overarching storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Cherish Hard

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

Review: Cherish HardCherish Hard (Hard Play, #1) by Nalini Singh
Published by Tka Distribution on November 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“He was no Prince Charming. But he was a man who would love Isa forever if she just gave him a chance. Because she was it for him. For now and always.”

FINAL DECISION: Adorable sexy gardener approached by woman who wants to claim something for herself. Sweet, adult working out of issues. Loved this one.

THE STORY: Sailor Bishop is only a teenager when he sees a college girl getting her heart stomped on by her boyfriend. Sailor tries to track her down but is unsuccessful. Years later, Sailor sees her again when he is doing landscaping at a school. The redhead approaches him and kisses him and then runs off again. Now Sailor is determined to find out her identity. Isa Rain is ready to settle down, find a husband and have children. What she doesn’t want is a sexy younger man who is determined to build his own business. When her mother blackmails her into working for her for the summer, Isa finds herself in charge of the sexy landscaper and having to decide what to do with him.

OPINION: I love books where the true conflict is a difference in outlooks that have to be resolved in an adult manner. There are no easy solutions here. Isa and Sailor must determine not whether or not they can love one another, but whether it is possible for their lives to merge together.

In the process, both Ina and Sailor must confront their pasts and the impact their parents have made on them. Ina and Sailor are both nice people and I loved their interactions.

Sailor is a caring and determined man. He has built his own landscape business but has plans for much bigger things. He has a plan for what he wants to do with his life driven by the ghosts of his past. But he is not mindless or willing to hurt people as he goes through his life. In fact, he is entirely normal. He has a plan for his life until something makes him question his plans.

Isa is trying to build her own life apart from her parents’ expectations of her. She is good at the business her mother wants to draw her into, but it isn’t Isa’s dream. I liked that it isn’t a matter of talent, but a matter of choice for Isa. She has her own past to deal with. Two parents who prioritized their work over their family. That makes her wary of a man who has his own empire to create.

What is wonderful is that these characters work out their problems. The book begins on a gimmick as Ina wants to avoid Sailor, but develops into a mature and adult story of two adults figuring out if the attraction they feel can be something to last a lifetime. I loved the maturing and adult manner in which they characters operate in the world.

There is also something beautiful about how these two characters interact with their families. I loved that these characters are grounded and real. The story is also pretty sexy between these two but always grounded in relationship.

WORTH MENTIONING: Hero is about five years younger than heroine.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHERISH HARD is the first book in the Hard Play series. CHERISH HARD is also a prequel to ROCK HARD from the Rock Kiss series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide 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: Misadventures on the Night Shift

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

Review: Misadventures on the Night ShiftMisadventures on the Night Shift (Misadventures, #6) by Lauren Rowe
Series: Misadventures #6
Published by Waterhouse Press on November 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 280
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book was a disappointment. I really loved this book until we got to the conclusion. I just didn’t buy the resolution at all. Too fast, too much left unresolved and there needed to be something more for the book to work for me.

THE STORY: Abby Medford is working as a night clerk in a hotel when she thinks her teenage fantasies have come true. Rock star Lucas Ford checks into the penthouse and notices her. After a rough start, the two find erotic playtime together combined with an emotional connection for two people searching for meaning in their lives.

OPINION: I liked so much of this book that I was really let down by the ending. Abby and Lucas are a hot lusty pair and their interactions range from intense fighting to emotional connection. I thought the connection between them was strong and I really enjoyed the heat in this book.

Abby is a woman who likes the bad boys but is trying to be good and build a life — even if it isn’t the one she actually wants. She works hard and goes to school but can’t get excited by a future that might be outwardly successful but doesn’t call to her.

Lucas is a rockstar who just doesn’t have the passion for what he does any more.

When the two meet, they bring something exciting and hopeful to one another. I loved that part of the story.

Ultimately, however, this book just didn’t work for me as a romance. I didn’t buy the resolution of the story between the hero and heroine. Too fast, too many complications, too much time apart and too many people involved. The resolution seemed more like an accident that might change in time rather than a happy ending.

WORTH MENTIONING: Warning for those who don’t like their hero and heroine having sex with other people after their supposed life changing “connection.” There is a also a menage scene.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES ON THE NIGHT SHIFT is the sixth book in the Misadventures series, but each book is a complete standalone with no overlapping storyline, characters or content.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.

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

two-half-stars

Review: American King

Review: American KingAmerican King (New Camelot Trilogy, #3) by Sierra Simone
Series: New Camelot Trilogy #3
Published by Amazon Digital Services on October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 456
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: I love the characters in this book and the crazy stuff that gets worked out, but honestly, I felt the series went down since the first book in the series. The ending was too contrived and completely without any possibility of reality that I felt a letdown for the entire series.

THE STORY: This book continues the story of Ash, Embry and Greer. As the book begins, Embry has broken from the trio as he has unwillingly impregnated Greer’s evil cousin and has decided that Ash is not doing enough to protect Greer. Embry intends to run against Ash for president. This book, as might be expected, focuses on Ash’s view of the events.

OPINION:  There was so much I loved about this book, but the ending was not among them. There is something really crazy and beautiful about this series just going for the most salacious romance — the President, Vice-President and the First Lady. There are so many mixes and measures that I couldn’t wait to see what incredible plot twist was next. The whole thing just felt so unreal and big. Using the mythology of King Arthur as the basis for the story allows this story to have its own mythic quality. Yes, the story is unreal on almost every page, but I loved that the spirit of the story embraced all the crazy plot twists that felt like a modern erotic soap opera. This book begins to unwind all the plots that were introduced in the first two books. Mostly, I enjoyed the possibilities. I also have always liked how this book uses love and passion and lust and jealousy and guilt in bigger than life ways.

But the ending just disappointed me. Too small, too neat, too implausible.  I expected everything to be blown wide open, but instead, the book ends in secrets and hiding. I just felt disappointed and once that happened, all the veneers of big drama just fell apart. Instead, I just kept asking questions about how things would actually work in reality and the entirety of the relationships just fell apart for me. Perhaps one day I will re-read this crazy adventure and see it differently, but I was sad that today I couldn’t walk away excited about the entire journey.

WORTH MENTIONING: I recommend this series because I think that people’s reaction to the ending will be personal and doesn’t diminish the wonderful crazy series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AMERICAN KING is the third and final book in the New Camelot Trilogy. These books are meant to be read together in order.

STAR RATING I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Seducing Ethan

Review: Seducing EthanSeducing Ethan (Knight Security, #6) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Knight Security #6
Published by Carole Mortimer on May 26th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 302
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable end to the series, characters that I enjoyed reading about and enough sex and action to keep it interesting.

THE STORY: Ethan is hiding out from a murderous criminal father when a woman steps from the shadows. Talia and Ethan knew one another three years ago when his family’s business was hired to protect Talia. It was revealed, however, that Talia’s father was a corrupt Russian and the two went into hiding. Now Talia has returned seeking Ethan’s help. The two join forces as danger surrounds them.

OPINION: This is a short novella, but I enjoyed the interaction between Ethan and Talia. I was quite surprised how much story was packed into this little novel. The book has more dramatic action than I expected, but the story is hot as well. The book isn’t particularly deep and the relationship between the hero and heroine happens really quickly (picking up on their interactions three years ago). Therefore, reading it like a quick novella worked really well.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved that there is a character reunion and updates for those of us who have followed the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SEDUCING ETHAN is the sixth and final book in the Knight Security series. This book can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters with the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Wyoming Winter

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

Review: Wyoming WinterWyoming Winter (Wyoming Men, #7) by Diana Palmer
Series: Wyoming Men #7
Published by Harlequin Books on October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A more complex version of Palmer’s standard formula which I enjoyed with the exception of the too quick resolution of the problems between the hero and heroine.

THE STORY: Colie Jackson falls hard for her brother’s friend J.C. Calhoun. Colie ignores, however, J.C.’s differing values and his distrust of women. While the two get close, J.C.’s past keeps him waiting to be betrayed. When he is told that Colie has been cheating on him and is pregnant, J.C. rejects Colie. Years later, Colie returns to town and again sees J.C. The two have to work through their past while Colie is in danger from a criminal gang because of secrets only she knows.

OPINION: This book has Palmer’s standard formula: innocent woman misjudged by man angry and mistrusting because of lies and a past woman’s actions; he breaks her heart and then realizes he was wrong and they reconcile. One thing I really liked about his book was the time it took in J.C. in reforming himself. That was different than what I have seen in Palmer’s books in the past.

Longtime readers of Palmer will recognize one of her enduring formulas. These characters are what you might expect except that Colie has more determination and self-reliance than I expected.  J.C. is the expected jerk as the book begins, but he also goes through a three year struggle to change himself.

I am also a big fan of how the story works out through both J.C. and Colie working through their own faith struggles. (Readers who don’t want to read about characters who have religious backgrounds and struggle through life and try and connect it to their faith and God should probably skip this one).

The problem that kept this book from being rated higher was that, for me, the resolution between J.C. and Colie was too quick. There needed to be more time or more discussion or more groveling. Everything between them seemed to be fixed within only a few pages and I needed more to resolve the years that these two spent apart and the magnitude of what occurred.

Despite this, I enjoyed this book as a whole.

WORTH MENTIONING: I enjoyed seeing characters from prior books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WYOMING WINTER is the seventh book in the Wyoming Men series but can be read as a standalone. The book is also connected with the Long, Tall Texans series if you have read the series otherwise the connection is slight.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide 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