Review: Silver Silence

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: Silver SilenceSilver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity, #1; Psy-Changeling, #16) by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling #16, Psy-Changeling Trinity #1
Published by Berkley Books on June 13th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 464
Goodreads
five-stars

“Welcome to the Age of Trinity.”

“Even after all this time, Silver did not understand bears.”

FINAL DECISION:  Moving the action from San Francisco to Moscow, Singh kicks off the new “season” of the Psy-Changeling series with the compelling story of Silver Mercant, a powerful Psy woman, and the alpha bear shifter, Valentine who breaks through her silent walls.

THE STORY:  Silver Mercant is the uber effective assistant to the most dangerous man in the world and has also taken on being the coordinator for the new worldwide emergency response/humanitarian response group.  She has also acquired an admirer in Valentin Nikolaev, the Changeling Alpha of the StoneWater bear clan.  Valentin has been courting Silver for months — making sure to meet with her instead of her boss, leaving her food and appearing at her apartment unexpectedly.  When an attempt is made on Silver’s life, Valentin makes it his business to help protect Silver.  In a post-silence (aka a world where the intellectual Psy are allowed to feel emotion) Silver must decide whether to break her own Silence to embrace a potential relationship with her self-proclaimed “teddy bear.”

OPINION:  I approached this book with a bit of trepidation.  When an author puts out a book like ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR and specifically states that she is moving to a new stage in a beloved series with a new focus, a reader who loved the original series might be concerned.  I’m happy to report that while this book moves the series in new directions with the introduction of new characters (and changeling groups), this is still the Psy-Changeling series that I love.  And maybe a better version of itself.

“Something always seems to get broken when a group of bears is out to have a good time.”

I’m constantly amazed by the amount of detail and differentiation that Singh is able to create in her Psy-Changeling world.  For the first time, we get to meet the bear changelings in detail.  And, oh, what a wonderful group these are.  Cuddly, messy, outwardly and unabashedly emotional, partying.  These bears are different from the cats and wolves that the series was previously embedded with.  I love how Singh makes each of these changeling groups different and distinct from the other groups.  Each group has a different culture, a different history, a different set of value priorities and yet they remain unmistakably changeling in their attitudes.  I had thought that I would always love the cats the best, but these bears certainly made an impression on me.

Valentin is a different kind of alpha hero.  He is definitely a dominant and in control, but he is also sweeter and more outwardly romantic and emotional than the other alphas we have met.  (I didn’t think an alpha hero could beat the sexiness of Lucas Hunter, but Valentin certainly does).  He is strong and yet funny and has a soft heart that he is not afraid to show others.  He ends up being a surprisingly good match for the efficient and smart Silver.

Silver is as competent and complex as we have seen through the series.  She has a difficult journey in this book.  (Yes, I ended up crying about half way through). And I never expected where this book went. While this is not the first (or even second or third) Psy and Changeling pairing, Singh always manages to keep the journey of the particular romantic pairing separate and unique.  Silver and Valentin are not like any other couple we have seen in this series — and that is a beautiful thing.

Pairing a wonderful couple with a political thriller is old hat for this series.  But this book gives us new enemies and (perhaps) allies to get to know. A series that never rests on its laurels or gets repetitive, SILVER SILENCE is a winner on all levels: emotional, complex, funny, daring, intriguing and a beautiful testament to love and devotion.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The story has moved away from familiar stories in the San Francisco area that series readers are used to and yet this book exists in that world and doesn’t feel separate at all.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SILVER SILENCE is the first book in the new “season” of the Psy-Changeling series.  Known as the Trinity series, this book is connected to what went on in the previous 15 books in the Psy-Changeling series and yet really starts out in a new direction. New readers could start here and catch up fairly easily, but I don’t know why anyone would.  Start at the beginning of the Psy-Changeling series because this is one of the best series out there.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

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

five-stars

Review: The Chosen

Review: The ChosenThe Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #15
Published by Ballantine Books on April 4th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 544
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“And herein was the conundrum, Xcor thought behind his closed lids. The only possible way out of this deadly scenario was to reveal the love he’d found for a female that was not his, never had been, and was not e’er going to be. But he would not sacrifice the Chosen Layla for anyone or anything. Not even to save himself.”

FINAL DECISION:  Layla and Xcor’s romance brings to light a lot of discord and fractures in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.  Things are changing and this book demonstrates and brings to light those changes along with a surprisingly sweet romance.  Loved it.

THE STORY:  Xcor is the enemy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood having attempted to assassinate the King.  Captured by the BDB, Xcor is only awaiting death.  He is a vampire who has lived a cruelty and harshness and the first softness he has found are his feelings for Layla.  The Chosen Layla is the mother of twins and has been meeting Xcor secretly because he fascinates her. The only way to stop Xcor’s death sentence is the reveal information she has about him which would threaten her position with her “family” and perhaps her own relationship with her children.

OPINION:  I loved this book.  First, I will confess that I’ve always liked the Xcor and Layla pairing because it really seems like a beauty and the beast scenario (my favorite trope).  I thought they had a difficult journey to find their happiness and it did not always seem like it would be possible.  The story of Xcor and Layla also gave characters that otherwise seemed pretty one-dimensional some needed depth.

Layla has always been in a difficult position as to Xcor.  He is the enemy of everything she loves — and yet she has not been able to resist him.  This book ups the ante and places her own relationship with her children at risk.  I saw in this book her strength in a way that she hasn’t revealed herself before. The heroines in this series have often had to risk things and people that are important to them — the only difference here is that the very characters we have come to know and love are in opposition to the romance.

One thing I really enjoyed is that many of the characters recognize that love is not always controllable and cut Layla some slack.  I thought the majority of the characters reacted in ways that I expected them to — with anger and concern and distrust, but that struggled with their own care for Layla.

Xcor has been changing for a long time in this series.  The long term nature of his story has made his transformation feel natural and real.  I wasn’t surprised by his actions here because it has become evident over time that he will do anything for Layla — even become a better person.

But this book is about more than Xcor and Layla. If it seemed like all the characters were settling into a normalized world — this book rips all that apart.  There are plenty of fractures and changes that this book reveals or causes.  Things are a changin’ in Caldwell and it’s about time.

There are secondary and related stories or glimpses about Qhuinn and Blay, V and Jane, Trez (who has a shock coming after the death of Serena), Throe, Tohr, Assail, and Lassiter.  There are plenty of appearances by other BDB characters and plenty of new stories (including drama and angst) are apparently brewing.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I actively disliked Qhuinn in this book.  His behavior was completely unacceptable and I don’t know that he redeemed himself at all in the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE CHOSEN is the fifteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  This book should be read as part of the series to truly understand the long simmering romance and the dynamics of all the relationships here.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Shadow’s Seduction

Review: Shadow’s SeductionShadow's Seduction (Immortals After Dark, #17; The Dacians, #2) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #17, Dacians #2
Published by Valkyrie Press on February 28th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 248
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I loved this book which is funny, angsty in the Immortals After Dark fashion, and so intensely focused on the couple that I could forget that this is part of a series.  Loved these two and their path to their HEA.

THE STORY:  Prince Mirceo Daciano, a vampire from the semi-mythical Dacia, meets Caspion the Tracker, a demon.  Mirceo wants to be more than friends with the demon, but instead settles for friendship until the two are dared to kiss by the three nymphs they had brought to their bed.  The kiss opens up a whole new problem for the two.  Caspion is determined to deny their attraction — especially because he knows what a fickle creature Mirceo is.  The possibility that the two are fated mates thrills Mirceo but he has to convince Caspion to give him a chance.

OPINION:  The romance between Caspion and Mirceo takes so many twists and turns and has as much drama as I expect from an Immortals After Dark book.

Mirceo starts the book looking to score with Caspion. He is charming and funny and irreverent.  He drives Caspion crazy with his determination, his humor and his willingness to do anything to prove the two belong together.  Mirceo, however, has his own troubles that he hides under his charming facade.

Caspion is darker and more troubled on the surface than Mirceo.  As he begins the book, he is entirely resistant to the possibility of having a sexual relationship with Mirceo insisting that he is only interested in females — even though he is attracted to Mirceo from the beginning.

These two begin with friendship that bonds them (even though Mirceo wants more) and the two begin with very sexy encounters that draw them both into more emotional and deeper connections than either expects.  This is the story of confounding expectations.  The two are truly more together — both as friends and partners — than either expects.

I especially liked the intense focus on the relationship between these two.  There is a nice dynamic of Mirceo being so open and insistent and Caspion being so resistant.  When the two finally reach and accord, it really feels that the two have journeyed together, arguing and debating and considering.

I would have given this book 5 stars, but I thought the resolution of the story was a little rushed at the end.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a m/m romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SHADOW’S SEDUCTION is the seventeenth book in the Immortals After Dark series and the second book in the sub-series The Dacians.  This book is closest to a standalone as you will find in this series.  It is completely possible to enjoy this book without reading other books or you can read the first in the Dacians SHADOW’S CLAIM.  Of course, readers of the Immortals After Dark series

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Wait for Dark

Review: Wait for DarkWait for Dark (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit #17) by Kay Hooper
Series: Bishop/Special Crimes Unit #17
Published by Berkley on March 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This is a weird and creepy story (a good thing in this series!) but what I love best is getting more character development from Hollis and more about her relationship with Reese.

THE STORY:  Hollis Templeton has progressed from being a victim to now becoming a team leader for the SCU.  She and her partner Reese DeMarco come to Clarity, North Carolina in order to investigate a series of deaths that appear to be accidents and yet seem like something much more sinister when the sheriff discovers that each victim received a text message stating “Wait for Dark” before their deaths.  Not only is the team investigating strange crimes but Hollis’s paranormal senses are continuing to evolve as she has to confront her own past as a victim.

OPINION:  I really liked this one because while the focus was appropriately on the suspense story and the investigation, there was quite a bit about Hollis’s own struggles.  I have loved reading about Hollis’s development throughout the series and this book takes her development to another level.  Just a warning though — things are not completely resolved and I expect we will get more Hollis books in the future.

What I like best about this book is that there is a real question about what is going on for a good portion of the book.  That builds drama and interest.  This is not a mystery book. You are not going to be able to gather suspects and evidence and find out what is happening.  This story is just creepy and strange and filled with scary images and possibilities.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I was glad to see Bishop and Miranda.  I keep wishing for another book with the two as the focus.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WAIT FOR DARK is the seventeenth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series.  This book really needs to be read in context of other books in the series to truly appreciate it.  It is not necessary to read all the books in the series first, but I recommend reading TOUCHING EVIL, SENSE OF EVIL, BLOOD DREAMS, BLOOD SINS, BLOOD TIES, HAVEN, HOSTAGE, and HAUNTED first.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days

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: How to Tame a Beast in Seven DaysHow to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-stars

“Never touch the Beast.

“Never let the Beast touch you.”

FINAL DECISION:  Very enjoyable first book in a news series, and I can’t wait to read more. The story of two people whose supernatural gifts haunt them both. They manage to find love in an arranged marriage where danger and death surround them.

THE STORY:  Raised on the Isle of Moon and believing herself an orphan, Luciana was aware that she is one of the Embraced (those born on a night of eclipsing moons who have supernatural powers) but did not know her true lineage.  When her father appears in her life, she discovers that if she doesn’t marry the Beast of Benwick, her father will be killed. However, if it is discovered that Luciana is actually impersonating her dead sister, both she and her father will be killed. Lord Leofric, aka the Beast, is also Embraced.  He has the power to use lightning, but that gift comes with the cost that he can kill people with his touch.  Ordered to marry by his uncle the king (who also happens to want Leo dead), Leo expects a loveless marriage of circumstances, until he meets Luciana who is far more than he expected.

OPINION:  A new series kicks off with a bang with the introduction of a world in conflict. A man who hasn’t been touched since he was a child because of his “gift” and a woman who is forced to impersonate her dead twin and hide every facet of herself.  When the two marry, their gifts complicate their lives.

A new series, especially in the paranormal/fantasy romance arena can involve a lot of explanations and worldbuilding which impedes the progression of the plot.  While this book is the first book in the new series, it largely avoids the extended explanations which can slow down the story.

Instead, the story has a most intriguing hero.  A man who is tormented by his own gift.  Leo is a man who cares enough about the people of his uncle’s realm that he wants to protect them even as they fear him.  A warrior, Leo has sacrificed much and his fits has separated him from others.  Immediately he sees something in Luciana and as the two navigate their marriage, there is humor along with the political intrigue and danger.

Luciana is sweet and being convent raised, she is a bit naive.  This leads to some amusing situations with her new husband. One thing is that Luciana is almost too sweet, but she is never annoying.  Her generosity and genuine caring for other people gives her depth and while innocent in many ways, she is not ignorant of the world.

I loved the humor and sweetness between Luciana and Leo even as the story dips into political intrigue and death. The story has a nice balance to it and I really look forward to reading more about this world as the series unfolds.

WORTH MENTIONING:  There are all types of supernatural powers in this world.  Elves and shifters, witches, those who harness the elements, and those who see the dead.  Because being one of the Embraced is such a danger, there is much still to discover about these people.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  HOW TO TAME A BEAST IN SEVEN DAYS is the first book of The Embraced series.

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 positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: The Longest Night

Review: The Longest NightThe Longest Night: Fantasy Romance (Nvengaria Book 4) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #4
on December 13th 2016
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 98
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This is a nice novella with some suspense and the romance between a half human, half logosh shapeshifter who acts as spy and assassin for Nvengaria and the Scottish widow who entranced him a year ago.  It’s a fun read with some emotional moments.

THE STORY:  Mary Cameron a Scottish widow with a seventeen year old son is lonely.  A year ago, she met Baron Valentin a shapeshifting logosh from Nvengonia.  The two shared some kisses and Valentin asked her to join him in Nvengaria.  She never showed. Now the two meet again in London and Valentin has no intention on allowing Mary to escape him again.

OPINION:  This novella like the other Nvengarian stories are a combination of historical and paranormal fantasy with a fairy tale aspect.

In this story Mary is a woman of thirty-five who has a seventeen year old son. The world tells her that she should be satisfied with being a widow and mother and respectable chaparone and not be concerned with love or sex.  But she can’t help thinking about both when around the sexy, younger man, Valentin. She thought about following Valentin to Nvengaria a year ago but got cold feet thinking about who he is.  The truth is that they didn’t know each other very well for her to give up everything to follow him.

Valentin is a man who has lived with the desire for revenge and the regret of making mistakes. He now wants to be with the lovely widow. He has been sent to London to spy on a potential traitor. But he has an ulterior motive…he wants to see Mary again.  Outwardly self-contained but passionate, Valentin has no intention of allowing Mary to slip past him again.

I liked the older woman, younger man story here and I liked how honest Valentin was with Mary. He admires her for all her strengths. There is a decent suspense story here involving Valentin’s mission.  Because of the length of this novella, there is less plot and character development, but that works here because Mary and Valentin have a simple story between them and need the small plot to keep the story moving.

This was an enjoyable read and is a definite need to read for those who liked HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER and want to know what happens after…

WORTH MENTIONING:  THE LONGEST NIGHT was originally published in A CHRISTMAS BALL.  This version has been edited and expanded by the author.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE LONGEST NIGHT is the fourth book in the Nvengaria series.  The romance in this book begins in HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER and I recommend reading that book first even though the events in that book are explained here.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Highlander Ever After

Review: Highlander Ever AfterHighlander Ever After (Nvengaria, #3) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #3
Published by Leisure Books on April 1st 2008
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 323
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Enjoyable read but not as good as the second book in this series.  I enjoyed the relationship between Zarabeth and Egan but for me the conflict wasn’t strong enough to justify the time these two were at odds.

THE STORY:  Egan MacDonald has loved Zarabeth for years. Despite her marriage to another man, he has not been able to forget her.  When her husband plots a coup against her cousin, the Prince of Nvengaria, Zarabeth reveals the plot and is now in danger for her life.  Zarabeth’s cousin sends her to his friend Egan in Scotland for protection.  Zarabeth is not the exuberant woman that Egan remembered.  While Zarabeth is in danger, Egan and Zarabeth have the chance to rediscover a path together that they missed years ago.

OPINION:  This is a second chance at love story about a woman who has been deeply hurt and the man she always loved.  Zarabeth and Egan are a good match for one another despite his attempts to keep her at arms length.  He loves her but he doesn’t believe himself good enough for her.

While there are magical elements in this story, the core is the relationship between Zarabeth and Egan. Her desire for him and her fears as a result of her marriage, his desire for her competing with his belief in his inadequacies.

I liked the romance here which was quiet and took a while for the two to work through their problems.

For me the negative of this book was that the conflict was not strong enough to really justify these two being at odds for so long.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book introduces the couple for the novella THE LONGEST NIGHT.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER is the third book in the Nvengaria series.  This book can be read as a standalone because the romance is self-contained although there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Blood Vow

Review: Blood VowBlood Vow (Black Dagger Legacy, #2) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #2
Published by Ballantine Books on December 6th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 432
Goodreads
four-stars

“He was extraordinary. Or maybe…extraordinarily dangerous was more like it  However she defined the effect of him, she had a sixth sense he was going to change her life.”

FINAL DECISION: Good addition to the Black Dagger Legacy.  Axe and Elise seemed set up perfectly for an angst filled drama, but the story ended up simpler than I expected.  My favorite part of the book was the continuation of Rhage and Mary’s story from BEAST.  If you read BEAST, you have to read this one.

THE STORY: Axe is a new recruit trainee with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. He is a loner who despises the idea of love after it wrecked his father when his mother left them.  He agrees to take the job protecting a female vampire who needs a bodyguard (Axe desperately needs the money).  He ends up meeting Elise who is an aristocratic female (definitely not of Axe’s class) and he is immediately attracted to her despite knowing that there can not be anything between them.  Despite the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the upper class girl vibe, these two find that they are desperately attracted to one another.  In other tales, Rhage and Mary are happily waiting for the finalization of their adoption of daughter Bitsy.  Just when everything seems to be going so well, a man who might have a greater claim on their daughter enters the picture disrupting the happy ending that the trio expected.

OPINION:  This was an interesting book, but I honestly liked the secondary story involving Rhage and Mary more than the primary story.  Axe and Elise seemed set up perfectly for an angst filled drama, but the story ended up simpler than I expected.

From his presence in the prior book in this series, Axe has shown himself to be a highly damaged person.  A former drug addict, a current sex addict (who spends his free time at a sex club engaging in public sex), a male vampire who feels deep anger and guilt about his father, I expected his journey to love to be difficult and filled with drama and angst.

The intense problems are quickly resolved when he falls for Elise.  This is more about two opposites falling for one another (although it is clear Elise is not as pure as she seems and Axe is not as dark). Axe is smitten from Elise from the beginning and doesn’t seriously fight that attraction.

Elise is a woman who wants to be different than the expectations of the older generation.  In fact, the one thing that is consistent with the Black Dagger Legacy books is that the old ways are changing in the vampire world and this younger generation is determined to make different lives for themselves than the older generation expected.

The idea of the new generation breaking out from convention is a strong theme in this series which I enjoy — especially because I’ve read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series where the characters do largely adhere to the old ways (although things are changing there as well).

With Elise’s skills and abilities I had expected that we would see a crossover with the Rhage and Mary story, but those are kept largely apart.

The Rhage and Mary part of this book make this mandatory reading for fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (especially after BEAST).  This is the center of the angst and drama in this book.  After the events of BEAST, this book upends the “happy ending” when a male appears who may have a claim on Rhage and Mary’s newly adopted daughter. This story kept the pages turning for me. Drama, love, resolution with complex ideas and themes.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is highly focused on the new trainees and the original BDB characters which is nice for those readers who want to know more about the characters and less about the mythology of the BDB series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  BLOOD VOW is the second book in the Black Dagger Legacy series.  This is a spin off of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The main story of this book about Axe and Elise can be read without knowledge of the rest either of the series (although there is no world explanation so you have to pick up the nuances) but the secondary story about Rhage, Mary and Bitsy is a continuation of BEAST (Black Dagger Brotherhood).

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Moonshadow

Review: MoonshadowMoonshadow (Moonshadow, #1) by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow #1
Published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on December 13th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 335
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Sometimes things change irrevocably. You turn a corner, hear a new song, read a book, fall in or out of love, or look at a painting in a different light. Or you get shot several times.”

FINAL DECISION:  Harrison strikes off in a bold new direction in her Elder World.  A fabulous paranormal with an alpha hero and the woman who won’t take his orders. I absolutely loved how Sophie and Nik fought and argued and found themselves in love and true partners in battle.

THE STORY:  Sophie Ross comes to the United Kingdom searching for answers about her past.  After having been shot in her job as a witch consultant for the police, Sophie has to rebuild her life.  After a spell gives her a vision of a handsome and deadly man, Sophie ends up traveling to the U.K. where she meets Nikolas Sevigny — the man in her vision.  Nikolas is a knight of the Dark Court who is working to defeat the Queen of the Light Court. As part of his quest, Nikolas realizes that Sophie might be able to help him return home to engage in the battle.  This book takes place in the Elder Races world.

OPINION: The best part of this book is how Sophie and Nik fight and argue and learn to respect one another.

Nikolas is a definite alpha male. Controlling, in charge, demanding and a warrior in all ways. Nik has spent years alone.  Separated from his homeland by the warring of the Light Court, separated from his brother warriors by necessity, Nik has become colder and more closed in. The hardened years of war have made him more course and more desperate.

Sophie makes this book for me.  She is not going to take any orders, demands or gruff from Nik.  She can take care of herself — and Nik — and she is not going to allow him to control her.  Her combat with Nik allows Sophie to recover a part of herself that was damaged when she was shot as part of her job.  While strong willed and a warrior herself, Sophie is also gentle of heart and caring. In fact, it is her caring nature that draws her into the battle between the Dark and Light Courts.

The relationship between Sophie and Nik is combative and full of disagreements and ultimately explosive passion.  Both Sophie and Nik are warriors and they have to learn to deal with one another. While Sophie is not going to put up with Nik’s demands, she also knows when to bend to accommodate Nik’s own vulnerabilities and how to tame Nik’s instincts without making him a whipped puppy.  There is no damsel in distress in this book rather two equals who learn to fight together.

The story introduced here which involves the battle between the Light and Dark Court is intriguing and had plenty of action and heft to it to kept the pace of this book hopping. The characters are fascinating with good stories that have possibilities that I look forward to seeing played out in the rest of this trilogy.  With a mishmash of English legends including werewolves (in London), Arthurian and Midsummer Night’s Dream fairy characters (which of course have older mythological origins), at play here the book feels fantasy and real at the same time which is one of my favorite parts of Harrison’s Elder Races world books.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This series has an overarching story that begins here but doesn’t conclude in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MOONSHADOW is the first book in the Moonshadow Trilogy.  This series takes place in the same world as the Elder Races series but can be read on its own because it takes place in a different place with new characters.  A good time to try out Harrison’s Elder World books.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Under the Kissing Bough

Review: Under the Kissing BoughUnder The Kissing Bough by Kathryn Le Veque, Sandy Blair, Suzanne Ferrell, Hildie McQueen, Anna Campbell, Tina De Salvo, Barbara Devlin, Joan Kayse, Catherine Kean, Anna Markland
Series: Farthingale #5.5, Second Chance #2.5, , Guardian Isle #1.5, Legendary Bastards of the Crown #0.5, Romance in Central City #7
on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-stars

This is a huge anthology with fifteen separate stories which cover several genres and time periods.

TARTAN BOWS AND MISTLETOE by Sandy Blair: (Victorian Historical) John Colin MacNab is an impoverished earl who is trying to avoid complete financial ruin after his spendthrift father. He refuses to consider marrying a wealthy woman wanting a title. Olivia Conor is rich and her father wants her to find a titled gentleman to improve their American business prospects. Olivia is a suffragist who wants to study law, not marry the man her father wants. This story was a little too predictable for me. Things were resolved too neatly and I didn’t feel a great connection to the characters. Rating: 2 stars.

CLOSE TO SANTA’S HEART by Suzanne Ferrell: (Midwest Small Town Contemporary) Sylvie Gillis is a hairdresser who is dating Cleetus Junkins, a deputy. The two are Santa and his elf for the town events. The two seem to be destined to be together except for two problems: Cleetus is a virgin and Sylvie has a secret concerning her family.  I really liked the setup for this one and Cleetus was cute giving Sylvie a Christmas.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the secret and the resolution which didn’t seem to fit the rest of the story. Rating: 3 stars

UPON A MIDNIGHT DREAM by Kathryn Le Veque: (Medieval Historical) Sir Rennington of Ashbourne is a knight who has returned from the Crusades penniless and lacking a home. When he hears about Lady Holly St. Maur who is the oldest daughter of a rich landowner, he is determined to win her hand in marriage. Holly plans never to wed after loving and losing her betrothed in the Crusades. I absolutely loved the setup for this one. I thought the pacing was wonderful, the issues complex for such a short story and I really liked the characters.  Then everything got resolved in a page or two which was very disappointing. Rating: 3 stars.

MISTLETOE AND THE MAJOR by Anna Campbell: (Regency Historical) Edmund Sherritt, Major Lord Canforth has returned home after years of fighting on the Continent. He returns injured and scarred to the wife he married only two weeks before leaving for eight years. Felicity, Lady Canforth, has loved her husband from the beginning and is happy he has returned but wants more than their proper, respectful marriage.  I loved this one. The scope of the story was very small — a couple reuniting after years apart not knowing how to ask for more in their relationship.  The story was sweet and complete. I felt happy at the end of the story.  Rating: 4 stars.

HUNT FOR CHRISTMAS by Tina De Salvo: (Cajun Contemporary) Dr. Camille Comeaux returns home to the bayou from her life in New York.  She meets Hunter James who has purchased nearby Cypress Island for peace and privacy. Camille is determined to convince Hunt to allow the Cajun community of Fa La La to have their annual Christmas celebration on the island.  Enjoyable story with a few too many moving parts to be truly satisfying in the result.  I did enjoy the local characters and Camille and Hunt had a nice chemistry.  A Second Chance series novella. Rating 3.5 stars.

HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME by Barbara Devlin: (Regency Historical) Lord Nicholas Sheldon and Lady Almira were betrothed since birth but then she is given in marriage to an evil man. Years later, Nicholas has the chance to try and redeem their failures and capture Almira for his own.  This is the story of two people who were ripped apart and have both suffered because of it.  This second chance gives these two another opportunity at love and happiness.  I really enjoyed this book but I could see that it was part of a series and there was significant events which occurred in those books which are relevant to this story.  I thought the story was good here but I think I would have enjoyed it better having read the other books in the series.  This novella made me want to read more.  Rating: 4 stars.

AN IRISH GIFT by Joan Kayse: (Fae Paranormal) Killian is a fae shifter who has to work to discover something taken from him. He ends up having to bring together a couple Kathryn and Colin together in time for Christmas.  I just couldn’t get into this story.  There was too much worldbuilding that didn’t have any purpose in the story. The couple that gets together is really a sideshow to the story.  I really liked Killian and wanted the story to be more about him. This might be a good series, but this wasn’t a good introduction.  Rating 1.5 stars.

ONE KNIGHT’S KISS by Catherine Kean: (Medieval Historical) Sir Tristan de Champgne is a knight who is estranged from his family after his betrayal by the woman he had planned to marry.  He comes to spend Christmas with a friend and his family. There he meets Lady Honoria Whitford, his friend’s sister.  This was an adequate story but I wish there had been more heat in the story. I liked the characters but there wasn’t enough plot to sustain the story except for another woman who wants Tristan for herself.  Rating: 2.5 stars.

UNKISSABLE KNIGHT by Anna Markland: (Medieval Historical) Victorine de Toeni is a young Norman maiden and ward of William the Conqueror. The obligation is to marry her off.  Sir Dervenn de Roure is a Breton knight favored by William but not by Victorine. William doesn’t want to marry either but as time goes on he is enchanted by the willful woman.  I absolutely loved this story. I thought it was well crafted to fit within the novella format with interesting characters that I liked.  The story was interesting and didn’t leave loose ends.  One of the best of the anthology.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

CHRISTINA, A BRIDE FOR CHRISTMAS by Hildie McQueen: (Western Historical) Christina Mills flees Philadelphia for Wyoming because of her brutal father who has arranged what promises to be an even worse marriage.  She comes as a mail order bride. She has chosen Alexander Barrett Patterson for her husband.  When she arrives, she discovers that Barrett is uncertain about marrying her.  Barrett is scarred and has lost a portion of his leg in the Civil War. He thinks himself not good enough for Christina.  I enjoyed the feel of this book but thought it took too long to get to the romance between Christina and Barrett.  The description of the times and the characters were great.  Rating 3.5 stars.

IF YOU LOVED ME by Meara Platt: (Regency Historical) Desmond Cameron, Marquis of Blackfell has no intention of falling for a Farthingale. When he comes across a carriage accident, he meets Miss Adelaide Farthingale (a cousin of the Farthingales in the series). Adelaide is sweet and innocent unlike the cynical Desmond. I loved this story. It is sweet and I loved the brightness and gentle nature that Adelaide has. She has been made to feel unimportant and an afterthought. Desmond is attracted to her unspoiled nature even as he is determined to fight his feelings for her. The story is uncomplicated but the characters are well done.  This book is 5.5 in the Farthingale series but can be read as a standalone. Rating: 4 stars.

DESTINY’S KISS by Elizabeth Rose: (Medieval Scottish Romance) Ross of Clan Douglas is a Scottish lowlander who hates the English and intends on marrying the English king’s mistress and claiming his bastard. When Ross arrives at the mistress’s family’s castle, he meets Lady Annalyse Granville, the second born twin of the king’s mistress.  Annalyse is abbey raised because she is considered cursed as the second born.  Although Ross intends on marrying her sister, he is drawn to Annalyse.  This book is the prequel to the Legendary Bastards of the Crown series and it shows.  The story is more interested in the story of the bastard to the king than developing the romance between Ross and Annalyse.  I liked the story but was disappointed in the romance.  Rating: 3 stars.

HER VAMPIRE PROTECTOR by Jordan K. Rose: (Vampire Paranormal) Oswald Addison is a vampire and a member of the Guard. He has liked Selene Kittery for a long time but she won’t give him the time of day because she believes him a womanizer.  Although she actually is attracted to him as well.  This is a humorous vampire story.  There is a lot that goes on in this story with lots of characters (since it is part of a series).  I got lost with the number of characters, but I did think the story of these two was sweet and funny.  Rating: 3 stars.

DANCING UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Lana Williams: (Victorian Historical) Katherine Flemming is on the run.  She has just left her position as a seamstress because she fears having been discovered again. For Christmas she is going to the country to stay at the estate of a countess she met at her work. She is met by Cole Dumont, Lord Barclay who finds Christmas a sad time because of the loss of his family.  This story reveals their secrets and an attraction to one another.  I liked this story because of the mystery aspect of what secrets these two have. The story had the best Christmas spirit of the bunch because so much works out because of the Christmas holiday.  I thought things were wrapped up too neatly, but I liked the festive story.  Rating: 3.5 stars.

A YULE TO REMEMBER by Jeanne Adams: (Witch Paranormal Contemporary) Haven Harbor is a town in Massachusetts inhabited by witches.  Annie Boyston owns the Classic Cauldron a cooking shop in town.  Reyn Shapleigh is the town’s Fire Chief. Annie and Reyn are friendly towards one another until the first Yule kiss makes things more than friendly.  This was a very enjoyable story.  Quirky and funny and with an interesting plot involving danger in town.  I liked Annie and Reyn and their relationship felt really natural but magical at the same time.  I would read more about this town.  Rating: 4 stars.

four-stars