Review: Alec Mackenzie’s Art of Seduction

Review: Alec Mackenzie’s Art of SeductionAlec Mackenzie's Art of Seduction (MacKenzies & McBrides, #9) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies and McBrides #9
Published by JA / AG Publishing on November 14th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This was a very enjoyable book. I loved Alec and Celia together and there is a good plot surrounding the romance.  I can’t wait for the next book.

THE STORY: Alec Mackenzie is dead…at least to the English who are searching for the traitors after the Scottish uprising that ended with Culloden. After his remaining family fled to France, Alec has returned to England with his young daughter in order to search for his brother Will who may have been captured by the English. Alec is masquerading as Mr. Finn, a poor Irish artist taking on students. His student is Lady Celia who is the daughter of the duke that Alec suspects is implicated in his brother’s disappearance. Celia is intrigued by Mr. Finn and feels that there is much more to the man than he presents.

OPINION: I loved the interaction between Alec and Celia. That interaction is what made the book for me. Like the other Mackenzie books, this book has larger than life characters who have intense feelings for one another. The connection between these two is immediate and quite beautiful.

Alec’s kindness and gentleness made me fall for him, too.  He is a man who has big emotions and love. One of his best qualities is the love he has for his daughter and his family. He is adorable in that seriously manly fashion. As he meets Celia, he is pulled into caring for her as well. His support for her artistic talent and her wishes and thoughts is very attractive as well.

Celia is strong and determined even under the intense manipulation and pressure of her mother.  Her willingness to do what is right for her despite the pressures of society which leaves her ruined, her complex feelings for her family members, and her insistence of being treated as a partner give Celia depth that I enjoyed as well.

The plot here works as well. Alec’s search for his brother involves various schemes and plots and unwinding the villains and heroes. There is also enjoyable glimpses of the remainder of the Mackenzie family so those who have read THE UNTAMED MACKENZIE will be pleased to see what has happened with the family since the events of that book.

Ian and Beth also open and close this novel. Fans of the original books will be pleased. I’m hoping that in the next book we will get to see more of the more of the Victorian era Mackenzies.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book sets up Alec’s brother Will’s book. I can’t wait to hear his story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ALEC MACKENZIE’S ART OF SEDUCTION is the ninth book in the Mackenzies and McBrides series. While this book is a self-contained romance (which is a prequel to others in the series), there is an introduction from Ian Mackenzie (THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE) and I think at least that book should be read first just to put the story in context.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC from the author 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: Tyler

Review: TylerTyler (Riding Hard, #4) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Riding Hard #4
Published by JA / AG Publishing on April 19th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 265
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Well, hello tall, dark, and sexy.”

FINAL DECISION: Loved this story. There was an immense sense of kindness between these characters along with the attraction and lust. One of my favorites of the series.

THE STORY: Stunt cowboy Tyler Campbell is saved from a severe beating at a biker bar by divorced mother Jessica. Despite the sad pasts of both, there is an intense connection between them that leads to a night together. In the morning, however, Jessica has second thoughts about getting involved with Tyler. When danger threatens Jessica and her son, however, she turns to Tyler and his hometown for help.

OPINION: There are some books that I shouldn’t start reading late at night because they are so addictive that a chapter or two just won’t do it. This is one of those books. I loved it from the beginning. Tyler and Jess are both so nice and skittish without have a thick skin separating them from others. Once these two get together there is not question that they are meant for one another. In fact, most of the drama is external which makes the sweetness between these two special.

I also really enjoyed seeing the couples from the previous books and other characters from the series. My favorite series are ones that don’t forget that the other characters exist in the same world.

Both Jess and Tyler have scars that make them skittish with one another and yet the two quickly find that they have something special together. I liked how everything worked in this story (except that points of the plot resolution seemed a little farfetched, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment). I finished this book in the middle of the night and didn’t regret it at all even though I had to wake up early to start my day.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lots of children in the air.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TYLER is the fourth book in the Riding Hard series. While this romance is self-contained and can be read as a standalone, there are secondary characters from other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: A Mystery at Carlton House

Review: A Mystery at Carlton HouseA Mystery at Carlton House by Ashley Gardner, Jennifer Ashley
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #12
Published by JA / AG Publishing on March 18th 2017
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This series never disappoints. With a great mystery combined with personal character development, this book kept my interest from page one in a way that feels fresh even as it conforms to the mystery template.

THE STORY: Having returned from Egypt to his life where more domestic matters take precedence, Captain Lacey is asked to investigate the theft of items from the Prince Regent’s Carlton House. Lacey has pressure on all sides to discover what is really happening. A bow runner is trying to blackmail him, the Prince Regent expects a quick resolution and Mr. Denis (the criminal mastermind) is protecting the suspect. Lacey conducts his investigations while personal dramas for his friends and family also come to the forefront.

OPINION: The mystery here is not as intricate as others in the series, but in exchange there is intense personal character matters involved. This book has various overlapping storylines and the reader is kept guessing which, if any, are part of the mystery.

What I love most about this series are the depictions of Lacey and his friends and family. I prefer to read books where the characters are the forefront, not a tricky plot. Readers who enjoy some mystery with strong characterizations will enjoy this book. I liked that we got to know more about the secondary characters and also get to see more of Lacey and Donata in their domestic relationship.

This book is sweet and funny and exactly what I expected to enjoy.

WORTH MENTIONING: Baby, baby, baby.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A MYSTERY AT CARLTON HOUSE is the twelfth book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series. These are self contained mysteries and thus can be read as standalones. There is, however, continuing character stories that continue from book to book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Penelope and Prince Charming

Review: Penelope and Prince CharmingPenelope and Prince Charming: Nvengaria (Historical Paranormal) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #1
Published by JA / AG Publishing on August 1, 2006
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 377
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A fun mixture of fantasy, fairy tale and historical, this book introduces a new series.  While the insta-love reduces much of the emotional drama, the story was interesting and the characters have a good story to tell.

THE STORY:  Miss Penelope Trask is a double jilt after ending two disastrous engagements.   She has resigned herself to never marrying when Prince Damien of Nvengaria appears informing her that she is the the woman he has come to England to find.  The woman destined to be his bride and help him rule his land.  Penelope knows that something magical is happening (and this book has magic in it) but knows that men have deceived her before.  Damien and Penelope must battle those who are trying to prevent Damien from returning to his country and certainly trying to prevent a marriage between them.

OPINION:  This book was an enjoyable mixture of historical, fairy tale and fantasy.  As the first book in the series, the mixture is not always smooth, but I found the combination both sweet and fun.  (There is also some sexy situations put in the mix to keep the sickly sweet possibilities away).

Damien comes to England to search for his destined bride, immediately falls for Penelope but then has to win her and her family over.  At the same time, the two need to battle the evil Grand Duke who wants to prevent the two from fulfilling the prophesy and returning to Nvengaria as the rulers.  There are assassins and monsters and magic sleeping spells along the way.

The insta-love in this book (consistent with the Cinderella fairy tale this is loosely based on) reduces much of the emotional drama between the characters.  The book also has bit of “marriage of convenience” feel to it as Penelope and Damien seem fated to be together but then have to learn to live with one another.

I loved Penelope in this one.  She is strong and independent and clearly the center of this book.  Nothing works in this book without her.  It is her discovery of her true self that makes this book work.  Like Cinderella, she is hidden in the small town she lives in.  In truth, she is a princess.  Her discovery of her abilities — her true self — makes her relationship with Damien work and also saves their country.

I also was intrigued by the story of the villain, Alexander (whose story is next in the series).  For me, I was more interested in his story than Damien’s (I have a thing for the anti-hero).  I would read the next book in this series simply based on Alexander’s story, but I also was intrigued by the combination of genres.

A reader of this book will have to be open minded because the book combines the fantasy elements of magic and monsters with a some very typical historical elements.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is a historical paranormal with magic and fantasy elements along with taking place in the regency period.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  PENELOPE AND PRINCE CHARMING is the first book in the Nvengaria series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Wild Things

Review: Wild ThingsWild Things (Shifters Unbound #7.75) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #7.75
Published by JA / AG Publishing on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 220
Goodreads
four-stars

Sweet Romance But It’s The Shifter Info Revealed that Is Really Good

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable with a less experienced Shifter male and a woman who has tried to find love in the wrong places. This novella expands readers knowledge of what is going on in the Shifter universe. Sweet and fun.

THE STORY: Mason McNaughton is a wolf shifter (youngest brother of Broderick from BAD WOLF) is tired of the feral feline living in his house driving him crazy and sometimes trying to kill him. He decides to help search for a cure which leads him to a psychic in New Orleans Jasmine Samuelson. Mason doesn’t believe in psychics but Jasmine is known for finding people and Mason needs her help to find the elusive Guardian healers who might be able to turn the feral back from his madness. Jasmine finds Mason sexy but she has had bad luck with men including a shifter who broke her heart before.

OPINION: This romance is sweeter and less intense than others in the series as this short novella has a lot of plot to get in. That being said, I enjoyed seeing Mason who is somewhat younger and more inexperienced than the typical Shifter in this series fall in love. Mason is really sweet even as he says that Shifters are wild and dangerous. The connection between Jasmine and Mason is quick and there is little conflict between them except for Jasmine’s wariness because of her past. I enjoyed this book especially because of the return glimpses of some of my favorite Shifters. This is not that deep of a book, but it is enjoyable and expands the Shifter universe.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lots of cameos from series favorites! There are lots of cubs arriving soon!

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILD THINGS is book number 7.75 in the Shifters Unbound series. It can be read as a standalone EXCEPT a reader has to understand a bit about the Shifters because it is not explained here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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four-stars

Review: Bad Wolf

Review: Bad WolfBad Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #7.5) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #7.5
Published by JA / AG Publishing on July 14th, 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 223
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Great Novella with Sexy Shifter and Lots of Cameos

“It was hard to protect a woman who went charging ahead before Broderick could check that the way was safe.”

THE STORY: Broderick McNaughton is a wolf shifter who lives in the Austin Shiftertown. Readers of the Shifters Unbound series will know that the shifters are treated as second class citizens, forced to live in designated town with few rights. They are magical creatures having been created by their enemies the Fae to be entertainment and weapons of war.

Broderick knows something is wrong when he awakens in a strange place. He realizes that he has been abducted. The people who abducted him want information about the Shifters. Broderick escapes and returns to the Austin Shiftertown and his sort of girlfriend Joanne Greene. Joanne is human and her relationship with Broderick is complicated. The two are circling around one another at the same time that they are attracted to one another. Broderick’s abduction brings them closer together as they work together, use Joanne’s skills as a hacker, to discover who is threatening the Shifters.

The mystery includes a murdered Guardian, appearances by and updates about Austin Shiftertown residents and a real partnership between the main characters.

OPINION: I really liked this novella. The story is snappy and I was surprised at the resolution. It was a definite suspense/mystery story. With unexpected appearances and surprise resolutions, this book is a treat for fans of the series.

Ashley does a great job of keeping the overarching storyline of the series moving forward without allowing the plot to become too complicated.

Broderick is a fun hero. Sexy and brave, he doesn’t think much of himself at times because he is not part of the leadership of the Shiftertown. This story, however, shows that he has an important role and that he is important to those around him. He is a shifter who does his job. I especially liked that he is interested in what Joanne does because it is important to her and wants to know more about it only because of the importance in her life.

Joanne is a character that has grown. I liked that Ashley has redeemed this character who was a negative character when first introduced. There is much here about characters not being simply good or evil. Throughout the series, many characters who had negative appearances have their motivations explained, their opinions changed and become better people because of their life experiences. Joanne is smart and able to take care of herself but has learned a lot and has a more humble view of the world.

This is a bridge book which finishes up some loose storylines and allows the story to continue in future books. It is a good one.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of LIon Eyes will be happy to have some additional resolution regarding that story here. Also, I was especially pleased to see Tiger again. He happens to be one of my favorite characters and plays an important role in this story.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this novella. Broderick was a compelling hero who seemed kind and compassionate but with a hell raising side. The romance is not as strong here as with other of the books in the series, but the appearances by other characters makes up for it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BAD WOLF is book number 7.5 in the Shifters Unbound series. A reader doesn’t have to follow the whole series to enjoy this book. This book is most closely connected with BEAR ATTRACTION and the novella LION EYES so readers might enjoy BAD WOLF more if those are read first.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Shifter Made

Review: Shifter MadeShifter Made (Shifters Unbound, #0.5) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #0.5
Published by JA / AG Publishing on April 1, 2011
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 38
Goodreads
three-half-stars

I’d give this a 3.5 rating. It is a good prelude to Jennifer Ashley’s Shifter series. However, I don’t know that I would have continued to read the rest of the books if I had discovered this short story first. It gives some background on the Shifters, but the story is very abbreviated and not particularly compelling on its own. In short, I would recommend this to fans of the series to fill in some details, but I wouldn’t start a new reader here.

three-half-stars