Review: Whiteout

Review: WhiteoutWhiteout (Survival Instincts, #1) by Adriana Anders
Series: Survival Instincts #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 28, 2020
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 514

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this book which I didn’t expect. A romantic suspense, it has action, but there is such emotion between the characters, that I almost forgot about the drama that was going on because these characters really clicked for me.

THE STORY: Angel Smith has finished her latest job as a chef at a research station in Antarctica and is ready to leave and start something new for herself. On her final day, however, the station is attacked. Angel and glaciologist Ford Cooper make it out alive but are stranded in the middle of the ice continent. With limited time and food, the two must find safety before the people who killed their co-workers find them and finish the job.

OPINION: Sometimes I like romantic suspense, and sometimes it leaves me cold. I enjoy the romance part much more than the suspense part, and sometimes the books are very light on romance and relationship development. But this book gets that balance just about perfect for me.

The characters are well-developed and interact with one another in interesting ways. Angel is a woman full of life, and Ford is a man who has closed himself off. (Sunshine and the grumpy scientist is a great trope) But the book explores the complicated edges of those archetypes as they are stranded together.

The book read fast, and honestly, I didn’t care that we didn’t get full answers about the suspense plot. For me, the important part of the book is how Angel and Ford peel away the things that are between them and keep them apart. They are so perfect for one another that I almost forgot that there were some villains that had to be dealt with.

WORTH MENTIONING: As part of a series, the “big” story isn’t finished here, so some people might be disappointed that everything about the overarching plot is not fully explained or completed. Not a cliffhanger per see (although the next book is suggested), and this couple’s story is complete.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHITEOUT is the first book in the Survival Instincts series. There is a prequel novella, but I didn’t read it and didn’t feel that I needed to do so.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: The Way Back to You

Review: The Way Back to YouThe Way Back to You (Blessings, Georgia #9) by Sharon Sala
Series: ,
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on December 31, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352

FINAL DECISION: Heartfelt romance that is rooted strongly in the community of Blessings. I enjoyed the story although it is not entirely focused on the relationship between Sully and Melissa but a holistic story of them as individuals and as members of their community.

THE STORY:  Sully Raines gets a shock upon the death of his mother — he discovers that he was adopted. This sends him on a search for his birth mother and brings him to Blessings, Georgia. In Blessings, he runs into Melissa who was a girl who he liked when they were kids.

OPINION: The Southern small town of Blessings, Georgia is a wonderful community. What I liked best about this book is that the town and its residents are central to this book. This is not a couple who are separate from those around them, but rather, this is about people being part of a community. Sully comes to Blessings, Georgia so this is the story of him finding a place in this town and he does it while building a relationship with Melissa.

I loved that the drama here felt real rather than the full throttle drama in some books (I like those too sometimes so it is not a criticism). Everything felt solid and warm. Sully and Melissa seem to settle things between them so nicely. There are some external issues, but I really liked these two who manage to talk through serious issues.

I also really loved that these two find one another at age 45 and look forward to a life together. Not the same life a couple of 25 or 35 have, but a life that is valuable and can be filled with love and belonging.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved all the characters in the town and this book really made me want to know more about their stories.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE WAY BACK TO YOU is the ninth book in the Blessings, Georgia series. This book can be read as a standalone (and indeed, I haven’t read any other book in the series). I’m sure there are overlapping characters, but I didn’t feel like I needed to read anything else to enjoy this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Nightchaser

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: NightchaserNightchaser (Endeavor, #1) by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Endeavor #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 1, 2019
Genres: Futuristic
Pages: 416

FINAL DECISION: A good start to a new series. I liked that this is a sci-fi romance story. I especially liked that Tess is a very capable, strong and determined woman. Although there is a lot of setup in this book, the story was intriguing enough to keep me interested to the end.

THE STORY: Captain Tess Bailey and her motley space crew are on the run for their lives. With her ship damaged and needing repairs, they land on a planet where Tess meets Shade Ganavan. Shade and Tess have an immediate attraction but he also gets on Tess’s nerves. As to two spend time together, the secrets that each is keeping might get them killed.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book. I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi romance and this one has a Star Wars feel to it but with some dystopian Hunger Games thrown in. The reader arrives in the middle of the action and the first part of the book is exciting.

The center portion of the book is centered on the romance. Honestly, however, the characters felt younger than their ages. This book definitely had a young adult feel to it despite the ages of the characters. In fact, Tess felt too naive and innocent for her experience and that bothered me somewhat. For someone on the run who is hiding, she seems to tell a lot of people her secrets — except, of course, Shade.

The action picks up in the last third of the book and its like all the tension and mysteries are sprung for the reader. I enjoyed this portion the best because it felt like there were payoffs.

I did enjoy the mysteries and the secrets and that kept me wondering what was happening in the book. That was the highlight of this story combined with the chemistry between Shade and Tess. They have an interesting relationship that challenge their expectations and plans.

I didn’t feel that this book was a home run like the first book in the Kingmaker Chronicles series. This book felt more uneven and fans looking for sci-fi may be challenged by the entire center of the book that is about building Shade and Tess’s relationship.

I’m going to admit to be wary of this series. I loved the beginning of the Kingmaker Chronicles and was really disappointed by the final book in the trilogy. So I’m going to be careful about being excited about this series until I see how it turns out. I worry that the great promises of these stories will ultimately not be as good as the expectations.

WORTH MENTIONING: While this book doesn’t have a cliffhanger, it is clear that there is more to the overarching storyline to be continued in future books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NIGHTCHASER is the first book in the Endeavor series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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


Review: Heart on Fire

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: Heart on FireHeart on Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #3) by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448

FINAL DECISION: A good ending to the trilogy. Although it didn’t quite hit the highs of the first two books as it wrapped up the story, I thought it was a worthy end.

THE STORY: Picking up after the events of BREATH OF FIRE, Cat and Griffin now take on their greatest challenge in unifying the three realms. Now Cat must go home and confront her murderous mother.

OPINION: I have loved the world building and complex relationships in this series. This book brings everything (at least regarding Cat and Griffin) to a close as Cat confronts her biggest fear — her mother.

As the story progresses, the relationship to the Greek Gods that has been present throughout the series becomes explicit as Cat’s destiny is fully revealed.  There is less tension and drama in this story as between Griffin and Cat and I think the book suffers somewhat from this. While the action and fantasy is good, I was not as interested in Cat and Griffin’s journey.

This book was necessary to finish everything up, but I missed the personal tension that made the first two books so good. Don’t get me wrong, this book was not disappointing but rather suffered just a tiny bit in comparison to the other books in the series.

That being said, I really enjoyed the revelations here and seeing Cat and Griffin’s relationship become more centered. Griffin is a wonderful partner for Cat and looking back on the series, all the qualities that make him so were obvious. They end up being such a grounded and complementary pair — and part of the reason is revealed in this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: I hope there are more books set in this world because there seem to be more stories to tell.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEART OF FIRE is the third book in the Kingmaker Chronicles. This book is intended to be read as part of the trilogy as it follows one couple and their quest.

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.


Review: Breath of Fire

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: Breath of FireBreath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #2) by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448

“Harbinger of the end. Destroyer of realms.”

FINAL DECISION: Exciting and filled with adventure, BREATH OF FIRE represents the continued growth of Cat as she matures.  She and Griffith evolve both as a couple and in their dream of unifying the realms.  This book doesn’t conclude the story, but there is plenty new hear to keep readers more than satisfied.

THE STORY: In this second book of the Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy, Cat Fisa is running from her destiny. She has found the man she loves, a non-magical warlord, Griffith, who believes deeply in her, but the magical Cat has kept a secret.  She is subject to a prophecy that Cat believes means that she will destroy the world. As secrets are revealed, the characters begin their journey towards what might be the fulfillment of the prophecy.

OPINION: A world with magic and Gods that remains incredibly human, this second installment of the Kingmaker Chronicles finally reveals much of Cat’s past. Readers of the first book will know that Cat has gained the favor of the Gods and has incredible (if inconsistent) magic.  She falls in love with the non-magical Griffith who is immune from magic and conquered the realm of Sinta (one of the three realms).  Now the two have forged a partnership and Griffith sees the possibility of building a better world with Cat by his side.  As PROMISE OF FIRE ended, Cat still had secrets she was keeping.

Cat’s past and her secrets are revealed in this book.  Finally readers can understand her journey. Cat remains selfless, reckless and an amazing fighter. In this book, she matures with the support of Griffith.  I love their relationship because Griffith is entirely willing to be by Cat’s side and support her even if he struggles with his own need to protect her.  Even better, he is willing to stand by her while she learns to lead rather than taking the lead himself. Griffith is a rare and amazing alpha male character who is not threatened by a strong woman but rather is willing to be anything that she needs.

Cat remains her prickly, sarcastic, cynical self in this book even as the shell around her has broken as to Griffith.  Readers can be assured (mini-spoiler) that this book doesn’t do the expected by breaking these two apart during this book in order to create another romantic arc.  Instead, these characters go deeper into their connection with one another.  By the time this book ends, their relationship seems pretty unbreakable.

The development of the relationships in this book are more subtle than in the first book (although there are some pretty big and important moments that don’t disappoint) but there is also non-stop action.  From the very first page, this book thrusts readers into battles, and challenges and political struggles.  There is a lot of ground to cover here but by the time the book ends, the direction the characters will be taking is clear and much has been accomplished.  One of the things I really like about this series is that each of the first two books is a discrete adventure (with many sub-adventures) but there is still an overarching story that leaves much adventure to come in the concluding book in the series.

We also are treated to more information about the other characters in the series.  The members of Team Beta have their own journeys in this book (although Cat and Griffith remain the focus).  I am hoping that some of their stories will also be resolved in the concluding book because they are adorable as well.  By the time this book ends, the member of Team Beta are fleshed out and each has a unique romantic problem of their own.

A thrilling adventure from beginning to end, this book will definitely satisfy those who enjoyed the first book of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is part of an interconnected trilogy with the same characters.  This book does not resolve the issues in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  BREATH OF FIRE is the second book in the Kingmaker Chronicles.  This book is meant to be read as part of the trilogy and should be read after the first book in the series PROMISE OF FIRE.

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 positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.



Review: A Promise of Fire

Review: A Promise of FireA Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448

“Is this man my enemy?”

FINAL DECISION:  Fabulous first book in a series about Cat Fisa, the Kingmaker, and Griffith, the man who captures her and then captures her heart.  This book is successful at concentrating on the romance while building a fascinating and complex world along with a plot intricate and filled with adventure.

THE STORY:  Catalia “Cat” Fisa travels as a soothsayer in a circus, but she is actually the Kingmaker — with the legendary talent of being able to tell truth from lies. Unfortunately, Cat catches the attention of Griffith, a warlord whose family has taken control of Sinta.  Griffith wants Cat to use her as a weapon for the newly acquired realm.  Cat, however, has no intention of allowing herself to be used again.

OPINION:  This is a fantastic beginning for a series.  My only reservation on the book is that this story is not complete in and of itself and thus if the subsequent books are bad, this one will too.  (I might revisit my rating up or down after the other books in the series are published).

The best part of this book is that the worldbuilding is intricately intertwined with the romance.  No pages of descriptions or explanations.  Things are explained as needed through the story in a natural fashion.  It makes the story go faster and keeps interest throughout.

Cat is a heroine that centered this book and made me want to read more.  This is her journey.  More than a romance, it is the story of a woman coming into her own destiny.  Like many great heroes, Cat is hiding from her fate as the story begins. In danger because of her past and running from her future, Cat has made a place for herself in the circus.  When Griffith comes to upset her hideaway, Cat at first hates him and wants to escape, but he also begins to make her part of a team, a family, a place worth defending.

Cat has tremendous power. Her weaknesses become strengths, her powers become more enhanced and she is funny and flawed and a powerhouse.  Her cynicism is matched with a innocent heart that she denies but which leads her to care and love those around her.

Griffith is an interesting hero.  Great ambition matched with intelligence and a recognition of the necessity of limiting power. He is like water on stone with Cat. Determined, quietly himself. He is determined and incredibly honest and loyal.  He comes from a loving family — which is a mystery to Cat — which grounds him.  He does what he has to do, but tries to be his best self.

The mixture of magic, dragons, help by the Greek Gods gives this book a rich basis for its mythology. The story feels grounded and recognizable without being entirely derivative.  This book leaves readers with many questions which I hope will be teased out in the other books in the series.

This book shows such promise and I want to see that promise flower into something amazing.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is only the beginning of the series. The story is not complete and readers should be aware that wanting to know the end of the story necessitates committing to more books.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  A PROMISE OF FIRE is the first book in the Kingmaker Chronicles.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.