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

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.


Review: Wicked Abyss

Review: Wicked AbyssWicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark, #18) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #18
Published by Gallery Books on April 25th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 400

FINAL DECISION: A adventurous, angst filled, humorous entry in the Immortals world, this book expands the scope of the Immortals world but also gives us a beauty and the beast retelling with a twist.

THE STORY: Ten thousand years ago, Abyssian Infernas was betrayed by his fey mate. He has never forgotten and has waited for her resurrection in order to get his revenge. Now the demon king of hell, Sian has his opportunity. Princess Calliope Bardot is brought by bounty hunters to Sian’s domain where he keeps her prisoner. She has her own purpose as well: to gather information against Sian and his alliance in order to protect her people.

OPINION: I immediately got sucked into this book although I haven’t read an Immortals book in a while. The humor and drama and just great storytelling keeps me returning book after book.

This book is an Immortals retelling of Beauty and the Beast including a curse, an enchanted castle and an incredible library. Of course, the castle is in hell and the beast is a demon who is slowly devolving into his demonic form. The beauty is an exiled fey princess who wants to return to her realm.

Although this story has fated mates (who already had one bad lifetime experience), the development of their relationship is given a tremendous amount of time to develop and grow. I loved the interaction between Sian and Lila as the two of them fall in love. But there are secrets that each is keeping and a past that torments Sian and makes him wary of trusting Lila again.

My favorite part is that Lila is a badass in this story. She is not going to sit around and allow Sian to dominate her or destroy her. By the end of the book, she clearly has evolved to his perfect mate.

This book is nicely paired with SWEET RUIN and keeps on the “dark side” of the coming battle. A small but significant appearance by Nix keeps the overarching storyline going.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are appearances from Rune and Jo from SWEET RUIN. And if you don’t recall Sian, he’s in that book as well.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED ABYSS is the eighteenth book in the Immortals After Dark series. This series is much better if read in order, but this book can be read as a standalone if character appearances from prior books and references to the overarching story line of the series don’t both you.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Island of Glass

Review: Island of GlassIsland of Glass (The Guardians Trilogy, #3) by Nora Roberts
Series: The Guardians Trilogy #3
Published by Berkley on December 6th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 352

FINAL DECISION: The trilogy ends on a decent but unexceptional book. Focused more on the plot than the romance (which feels like an afterthought), the “big bad” is just not compelling enough to compete with the first book in the trilogy.

THE STORY: This book continues the story of the six guardians who are searching for the three stars that will help them defeat the evil goddess. The final romance is between Doyle, a man cursed with immortality over three hundred years ago, and Riley, an archaeologist who also happens to be a shapeshifting wolf.

OPINION: I waited almost a year to read this book. Unfortunately after book two I didn’t have any real compulsion to finish up the trilogy. This book ended the series better than book 2 left me, but the romance was flat in this story.

The highlight of this series was book one and I still loved seeing Sasha and Bran. They were the best fleshed out couple in the series and they still seem the most interesting. While the pairing of Doyle and Riley was expected, this book didn’t really develop their characters any further. Doyle has some backstory dealing with his past with people dying, but Riley is not developed at all which was disappointing. These two seem to fall together more from being the only ones in the house not having sex rather than any real connection. The romance here felt like an afterthought that the story could have done without.

The strength of this story was the formed family connection between all six characters. Their pursuit of their quest felt purposeful and interesting. Even though the final confrontation with the “big bad” was lacking somewhat, I enjoyed the journey these characters went on.

What I really did not like was the epilogue which magically solved all the problems. As a spoiler, I can say that Sasha and Bran didn’t need anything — which just goes to demonstrate what a great couple they are.

I liked this book more than book 2 (although the “fixing” of the problems in book 2 done here mitigates many of my complaints), but this trilogy isn’t one that I’m putting on my keeper shelf.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book fixes the serious problem with the ending for the couple in book 2.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ISLAND OF GLASS is the third and final book in the Guardians Trilogy. The series has a continuing storyline and characters with relationships which overlap. A reader should start with book one and read the series in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Misadventures with a Super Hero

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: Misadventures with a Super HeroMisadventures with a Super Hero (Misadventures, #3) by Angel Payne
Series: Misadventures #3
Published by Waterhouse Press on October 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Paranormal

FINAL DECISION: Great premise. uneven execution. Parts of this story I really enjoyed, but parts were a bit confusing and uneven. Overall, I enjoyed the story because it was a fun ride.

THE STORY: Emmalina Crist needs her job working at a hotel because she is trying to make something of herself. Her new boss, Reece Richards, is a longtime playboy, and Emma knows that he is bad news, but can’t resist him anyway. But Emma is also intrigued by Bolt, LA’s newest superhero. Of course, Reece is actually Bolt and he has issues because he was given “super powers” against his will. The two have to navigate Reece finding out who and what he is.

OPINION: I really liked the premise of this story and it is really hot with Emma and Reece circling around one another in various locations in his hotel. I liked the characters and I really believed Reece’s improving his life because of his “changes”. I thought parts of the story were really funny and really sweet. This story is really an erotic journey as for the relationship between Emma and Reece (lots of insta-love/lust) with some superhero danger tossed in.

I did think that the writing was a bit uneven at times and the alternating points of view meant some confusion in the voice of the story. (There were not enough differences in the voices of the two characters to justify the different points of view).

This was a fun story and I would love to read more about these characters, but I think that a reader has to make a commitment to the story to really enjoy it.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella that is told in alternating points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MISADVENTURES WITH A SUPER HERO is the third book in the Misadventures series. This series, however, are completely separate standalone books with no connections at all.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 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.


Review: Deryk

Review: DerykDeryk (Dragon Hearts #2) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Dragon Hearts #2
Published by Carole Mortimer on September 29th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 185

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable continuation of Mortimer’s series about men who turn into dragons searching for their mates. Not a deep story, but fun.

THE STORY: Deryk Pendragon is the closest of the brothers of being in danger of “going dragon” and having to be executed unless he finds his mate. Now that one of his brothers has found his mate, Deryk is determined to find his own. Traveling to Russia to visit with another dragon family, Deryk immediately senses his own mate. Determined to claim her immediately, Deryk has no patience for Izabella Mikhailova wanting a normal life — or really just not wanting to be his mate.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book although it wasn’t particularly deep. There is instant lust because of the “mating” aspect to the story. I don’t mind that because I knew what I was getting. I really did like that each brother’s story is a little different as they have their own problems and hang ups. I had hoped that we would delve a little more into Deryk being close to losing control of his dragon, but that storyline seemed to be resolved very quickly. This book is a little fun and I like how Izabella quickly takes control of the domineering Deryk.

WORTH MENTIONING: We get to see a little more of Bryn who is next up in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DERYK is the second book in the Dragon Hearts series. This book doesn’t require reading the first book, but that book sets up the storyline for the whole series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Archangel’s Viper

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: Archangel’s ViperArchangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10) by Nalini Singh
Published by Berkley on September 26th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 400

“They let you drive now?” he said in a wondering tone of voice calibrated to get under her skin. “I leave for a couple of years and miss kitty’s first steps. Did anyone take photos for the baby album I sent you?”

“It’s full of pretty pictures.” Holly bared her teeth at him in a caricature of a smile. “Honor is a little concerned about how I keep drawing you with your head cut off,” she said in a deliberately thoughtful tone, “but an artist must follow her instincts.”

FINAL DECISION: Awesome, I loved this book in a way I never expected. Feeling fresh and young and yes, even a little weird, this book’s tone matched the strange, unique, and fun that make up Holly and Venom.

THE STORY: Four years ago, Holly Chang’s world was fundamentally altered when she and her friends were kidnapped by a blood mad archangel. Her friends were all murdered; Holly survived but ended up changed when the archangel put “something” of himself into Holly. She gained some qualities of vampires but she is neither fully vampire nor human. In the years since her abduction, Holly has been under the observation by various members of Raphael’s Seven.  Now the one who irks Holly the most, Venom, has returned to annoy her some more. Venom is a unique vampire who also possesses viper qualities and eyes. While Venom and Holly have much in common as to their abilities, they seem to rub one another the wrong way — until someone puts a bounty on Holly to kidnap her and the “otherness” inside her seems to be asserting itself. Venom and Holly must work together to discover what actually happened to Holly four years ago.

OPINION: The problem with loving a series is that sometimes a new book doesn’t live up to the hype and excitement. Having just completed a re-read of the Guild Hunter series, I had a worry in my stomach that I was too excited about Venom and Holly’s story (which has its origins in the very first book). I’m so happy to report that this book exceeded all of my excited anticipation. It was so different in its voice and tone and the characters lived up to the strange and mysterious origins. Their funky, weird and quirky natures bored into my heart (ha, ha) and they are definitely one of my favorite couples in the series.

Can I admit something? I often tend to take glances at the end of books as I get distracted during the story. (It’s a way of urging myself forward). This book I read cover to cover without even being tempted to read the ending. If you have similar tendencies or like to read spoilers, I urge you to let this book flow out in front of you instead. The story and relationship builds in such a wonderful fashion that I think that knowing the secrets in the ending will diminish the first-time reader experience.

Story feels young and fresh in a manner that I didn’t expect. One of my all time favorite books is FIRE AND ICE by Anne Stuart. This book has a similar feel in the characters and pacing (although there is really little similarity). The characters are younger than others in the series.

Although Venom is over 350 years old, he is the youngest of the Seven and the one character who has been the most mysterious in the series. This book peels back his layers and gives us his backstory.  He’s got a secret (not a deep dark one but an interesting one) that makes him adorable and perfect for Holly. Sexy and raw in a way that no one else in the Seven is, he has a different personality than I expected once his “gameface” is off.

Holly (who for a time called herself Sorrow) is quirky and funny and incredibly strong. We haven’t seen her progression for a while, and it was especially satisfying to see how she has grown and struggled and managed to reinvent herself after the horror of her “Making”. (I’ll also confess to having a total love for Dmitri and Honor and just adored seeing them with Holly). Holly makes this book for me. Her needling of Venom as the two find the rhythm of a relationship between them. Her strength in facing the reality of what her “making” might actually mean. And her determination to keep true to herself and her humanity put me on her side from the start. Of all the characters in this series, she was the only one from the present day who was 100 percent human and normal until she was forcibly dragged into the immortal world.

The funniest part for me is that I expected the quips and arguments and the humor, but I didn’t expect how heartwarming I would find their relationship. The observation that these two will grow together hit me with so many warm fuzzies. Their story is one of acceptance and appreciation and love for a person “because” of who they are rather than “despite”.

The story is more focused on Holly and Venom than in normal in this series (in many ways this book and ARCHANGEL’S HEART are part of the same story) and as a result, I was simply gutted as the book reached its conclusion as no part of this series has since the very first book.  The romance between these two is uniquely their own. The two seem to find joy in annoying one another, testing one another. There is a similarity to the relationship between Ash and Janvier, but this is no repeat of that romance. Venom and Holly have an acidic sweetness that matches their natures.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book overlaps with the events in ARCHANGEL’S HEART.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ARCHANGEL’S VIPER is the tenth book in the Guild Hunter series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 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.


Review: Nathaniel

Review: NathanielNathaniel (Dragon Hearts #1) by Carole Mortimer
Published by Carole Mortimer on July 28th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal

FINAL DECISION: A fun and very hot short novella about a dragon shifter and the woman who might be his mate.

THE STORY:  On a trip to Wales, journalist Chloe Evans discovers a mysterious castle that she suspects is a hub for illegal activities. Determined to investigate, Chloe ends up meeting Nathaniel who is an alpha alpha and who tempts Chloe in ways she never expected. The mystery of Pendragon castle involves centuries of secrets and, as one might expect from the title of the series, dragons.

OPINION: I enjoyed this novella which sets up the series which will be about a bunch of alpha dragon male shifters trying to find their mates before they become feral dragons.

This is a quick and dirty story meaning that there isn’t a tremendous amount of depth to these characters. Lots of insta-love/lust and not a lot of world building for the paranormal genre. That being said, I really liked the characters which are quirky and fun and I especially liked Chloe who is a smart mouthed woman who gives her alpha more grief that respect.

There is a lot to cover in this story as it sets up the mythology of the series, introduces a number of characters, reveals some of the past of the “brothers” and also has to squeeze a romance in for good measure.

A lingering, well constructed paranormal this isn’t, but an enjoyable short novella for those who would like a taste of the paranormal fantasy world without pages of mythology this is a good fun read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a rawer, sexier book than many of Mortimer’s books.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  NATHANIEL is the first book in the Dragon Hearts series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: So I Married a Sorcerer

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: So I Married a SorcererSo I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #2
Published by St. Martin's Press on August 29th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 496

“He would regret kidnapping her, she’s make sure of that. For he would soon discover that she was not a willing captive.”

FINAL DECISION: Filled with fun and adventure, I really enjoyed this second book in the Embraced series. The story of Brigitta and Rupert added to the legend in the world of Aerthlan. A paranormal with a historical feel, the book read like an old fashioned serial — in a good way.

THE STORY:  In the world where those born when the moons eclipse have magical powers but are hunted and in danger, some of these Embraced have found refuge on the Isle of Moon.  Brigitta has spent most of her life hidden in the convent on the Isle of Moon; she is Embraced. On her way to join her sister of the heart, Brigitta finds out that she is a princess whose evil half-brother wants her back to help secure his bloodline to the throne. Just about to be taken by his troops, Brigitta is kidnapped by the pirate Rupert who is Embraced and has the power to harness the winds. Rupert has plans to use her against her half-brother, but has many secrets of his own. Including one which involves Brigitta herself.

OPINION:  This book is one adventure after another as Rupert and Brigitta meet, deal with Rupert’s abduction of Brigitta and then also confront her half-brother. There are sea battles, dangers and, of course, love aplenty. Secret identities, lies, hidden motives, abound along with varying paranormal gifts.

Brigitta, along with her “sisters”, have been awakened by the events of the first book in the series. They are now aware that they may not be orphans but may have some secret unknown pasts. As the series progresses, I expect that we will learn their stories. Here, we learn that Brigitta comes from a family of usurpers of the throne. There is no happy family ending waiting for her. Brigitta is an interesting mix of naivete and practicality. She has an innocent heart, but at the same time, she has strength and a determination to chart her own destiny. Having a hidden past, Brigitta is just finding out who she is. This is her time to create herself after finally reclaiming her true identity.

Rupert has a different journey. He knows too much about the past and it haunts him. His story is not reclaiming the past, but rather his finding freedom from the past that at times overwhelms and smothers him. He also happens to be a sexy, powerful sorcerer who rules the seas. His story here is also a discovery story. Rupert is rediscovering who he should be. In a real way, he is rediscovering himself as well. A man who has kept himself hidden, he might have more knowledge than Brigitta, but he has also been unable to claim his true self.

A swashbuckling adventure, the story barely has time to take a breath before a new dilemma arises. It truly feels like an old time serial where the hero and heroine just solve one problem before a new adventure presents itself. I really enjoyed the pacing of this book which felt exciting and fun. I somewhat expected the ultimate twists and turns of this story, but the frantic pace kept the story moving.

I thought that this book picked up the ball from the first book in the series and moved the story forward. I get some sense that there is a larger narrative at work. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think these individual stories might be building towards a bigger conflict or solution.

Onto the next book of the series — next year, unfortunately.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Special bonus for fans who read the first book — twins!

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SO I MARRIED A SORCERER is the second book in the Embraced series. While this book can be read as a standalone, there are overlapping characters so if that bothers you, read the series in order. The romance in this book starts and is completed in this book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC 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.


Review: Forget Me Not

Review: Forget Me NotForget Me Not (Blackbird Series Novella) by Em Shotwell
Series: Blackbird Series #.5
Published by City Owl Press on August 8th 2017
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 203

FINAL DECISION:  Sweet and sad and ultimately bringing a happy ending.  This is a small town, Vietnam era historical with a touch of magic.  I thought it was well done and apart from any series, this is a sweet read.

THE STORY:  Evelyn Cadeau is being set up by her family matchmaker with Rex Somersby. Evelyn has no interest in her match and already has someone picked out for herself — against her family’s wishes.  Their arranged date, however, goes differently than Evelyn expected and moves her in a different direction.  Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War this novel has magic and young adult love and small town romance along with historical drama.

OPINION:  Oh, how incredibly sweet and sad (but ultimately happy) this story is.  I loved Rex from the moment he appeared in the story.  Young and unsure and such a sweet gentleman.  Evelyn is determined to not like him from the start, but Rex wins her over.  He is a young man who is taken with Evelyn from the moment he sees her and the story goes in a different way than Evelyn expects when they go on their date.

Evelyn is stubborn and her youth shows in her determination that she is right.  I was the most frustrated with her in the beginning, but she comes to her senses eventually (smile).  I also really liked how the magic in the story was quietly woven into the story.

Their story felt sweet and organic and I enjoyed it very much.  The story does take a serious turn and uses the sweetness in the beginning of the story to good effect.  Although there is some magic involved in this story, it still says a lot about the era.  The painful middle of the story pays off in a wonderful way by the end.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The Blackbird series takes place among people who are Gifted.  Evelyn, for example, brings life and vitality and Rex never forgets what he sees.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FORGET ME NOT is a prequel novella to BLACKBIRD SUMMER.  It is about the grandmother of the heroine in BLACKBIRD SUMMER.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

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


Review: Soulless

Review: SoullessSoulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) by Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
Published by Orbit on October 1st 2009
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 357

FINAL DECISION:  This was a fun read.  The combination of traditional paranormal characters (werewolves, vampires, etc.) in a new a different way kept me interested in the world building and I loved the fun main characters who have an interesting relationship.

THE STORY: Miss Alexi Tarabotti is a preternatural (which means she doesn’t have a soul) who accidentally kills a vampire.  Her killing brings her into contact with Lord Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, Alpha of the werewolves who comes to investigate.  There is something sinister going on and Alexi and Conall end up investigating to save Alexi and figure out what is happening with the Victorian high society (filled with paranormal creatures).

OPINION:  This was a fun book (which means it wasn’t particularly deep or thought provoking) and I enjoyed the ride. This combination of Victorian and paranormal was intriguing in it world building. I enjoyed Alexi who has a snarky and matter of fact personality. She is a hero in her own right and her relationship with Conall is prickly and funny.

And there is so much humor in this book.  As Alexi navigates the society and discovers herself, there are mysteries and romance and just plain fun.  I ended this book on a rush and would have given it 5 stars immediately, but it was like a sugar high.  Fun but the impact of the book didn’t stay with me.  I also didn’t have a great desire to continue reading the series although that this available for anyone who would like to go further into this world and story.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book resolves the story raised in this book, but future books feature the same couple so there is more to the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SOULLESS is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.