Review: Tiger Striped

Review: Tiger StripedTiger Striped: Shifters Unbound by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #11.5
Published by JA / AG Publishing on May 22, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I love, love, love Tiger. I would read a story about him going to the grocery store to buy stuff for dinner, but this story resolves some things from his novel so it is a wonderful companion. So glad to get another glimpse of my favorite Shifter couple.

THE STORY: In the middle of the night, Tiger gets the feeling that someone needs him and takes off. But his mate is not allowing him to endanger himself alone again and insists on going along. Tiger knows that someone, somewhere needs him and he has to go.

OPINION: I love when novellas in a series have a purpose. This one definitely is a must read in the series as it has some big secrets that are revealed. But what I love most is the characters of Tiger and Carly who already make such a loving unit.

I love Tiger because he is so honest and centered. He doesn’t have the instincts or interest in deception so we always know exactly what he thinks and feels based upon his viewpoint. This story turns that on its head for a while when we don’t understand his actions, but (of course) everything is neatly explained in the year.

The story is centered around the big reveal so I won’t go into that because it would be a spoiler, but I did love seeing how Tiger and Carly relate to one another as a settled couple and Conner is a cutie.

The story has some action and drama and I loved seeing all the Austen Shifters again. The nice thing about this story is that it has consequence for the series and the characters.

And what is truly to love about this story are the characters. Ashley has created a whole society filled with multi-dimensional characters so their cameos here all have consequence and a nice homecoming feel.

I recommend this novella for everyone who is a fan of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: We get to spend some time with Conner Morrissey as well. I hope we get to see him more in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TIGER STRIPED is book 11.5 in the Shifters Unbound series. This novella is an update on the characters of Tiger and Carly from TIGER MAGIC. I recommend reading that book first to get to know the characters.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 5 stars.

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

five-stars

Review: Midnight Wolf

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: Midnight WolfMidnight Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #11) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #11
Published by Berkley on April 24, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this couple a great deal. Tamsin’s personality perfectly fits her shifter animal and I loved how nimble and cute and sneaky she is. Angus is a wonderful father. I felt the romance was not as intense as I might have liked, but I felt these two found a comfortable relationship with one another.

THE STORY: Angus Murray is forced to hunt for a collarless shifter woman when his son is captured and held hostage. Angus is out to find Tamsin Calloway, a mysterious shifter who ran with Angus’s crazy (and deceased brother) for a while. While Angus tries to be focused only on capturing and turning over Tamsin in order to get his son returned, the slippery and smart Tamsin wins Angus’s admiration. Angus can’t risk his son, but he doesn’t want to sacrifice Tamsin either.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book because of the strength of the connection between Angus, Tamsin and Angus’s son. Their relationship was sweet and I liked that. There was also a lot of humor in their interactions. Tamsin’s zesty personality was a nice contrast with the often grumpy Angus. Tamsin seems irresponsible as the story begins, but we soon learn that while she is unattached, she is also serious about responsibilities.

The overarching story line here seemed somewhat insignificant and merely an excuse for Angus and Tamsin to go on the run together which leads to amusing adventures in a circus.

Tamsin is one of my favorite characters in the series now. She is amusing and clever and definitely feels like her shifter animal. She just made me smile especially as she brings Angus out of his shell.

I appreciated that Ashley made Angus’s son a big part of the story since Tamsin will be a part of their family. The relationship between them felt natural and I could see Tamsin acting as mother without betraying all her fun personality.

My only complaint is that the relationship between Angus and Tamsin felt more comfortable than passionate attraction. I totally bought these two together, but I just wanted to feel a bit more in their romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: I was so excited that we get to see more of Tiger!

CONNECTED BOOKS: MIDNIGHT WOLF is the eleventh book in the Shifters Unbound series. The romance in this book is self-contained but there are overarching storylines for the series.

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.

 

four-stars

Review: Murder in St. Giles

Review: Murder in St. GilesMurder in St. Giles by Ashley Gardner, Jennifer Ashley
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #13
Published by JA / AG Publishing on April 10th 2018
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 300
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable entry in the series. This one is more mystery than personal but is an interesting jaunt with plenty of appearances by the cast of characters in the series.

THE STORY: Captain Lacey is called to look at a body in St. Giles by Brewster (who is the bodyguard/spy who follows Lacey around). The man appears to have been beaten to death and Lacey intends to make sure that Brewster is not unjustly accused of the crime. Lacey’s desire to investigate, however, is complicated by his stepson being in danger from his relatives who want to take him away to live with them. This mystery has multiple layers and storylines.

OPINION: This book is focused primarily on the mystery which although Lacey has some concerns about protecting Brewster is not really a personal quest for Lacey. Instead, there is some distance between his emotions and the case (which happens to make him more rational in his investigations). Indeed, the book has a very meaty set of clues and characters who need to be interviewed. The story has a nice flow and ultimately the solution works perfectly for the set of facts.

For me, however, I prefer these books for the personal journeys of Lacey rather than the pure mystery portion of the book. The moments I remember best are of Lacey’s humor and relationships with the recurring cast in the book. Ultimately, I most enjoyed that Lacey has some struggle to make in determining the relative moral positions of the people that he meets.

The secondary story about Lacey’s stepson works to give some personal drama that the main mystery is lacking. I wish that there had been more integration of that story throughout, but I still enjoyed the chaos that the conflict causes in the Lacey household. The ending of that story and the book were especially well done. In fact, the last couple of chapters had me bumping up my rating because the surprises that were revealed. My appreciation was entirely character based as development and changes were evident. This book also nicely sets up some developments that I’m certain will be explored in future books.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’ve become a big fan of a bunch of historical mysteries lately. This series is one of my favorites because Lacey is so imperfect a character who has a strong moral compass that doesn’t always follow the rules.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MURDER IN ST. GILES is the thirteenth book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series. This mystery is self-contained but there are characters that have stories which go from book to book. I think the book can be read as a standalone unless having to catch up bothers you.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the author 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.

four-half-stars

Review: Death Below Stairs

Review: Death Below StairsDeath Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #1) by Jennifer Ashley
Published by Berkley Books on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 336
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: A lively main character combined with a far reaching mystery and the presence of a man with many secrets makes this Victorian historical mystery an enjoyable read.

THE STORY: Cook Kat Holloway has found herself a new position which almost immediately embroils her in the murder of one of the servants. Determined to discover who has murdered the young girl, Kat asks for help from her friend/acquaintance Daniel McAdams, a man with a lot of secrets. Kat and Daniel’s search takes them far from the murder of an Irish servant to the possibility of treason.

OPINION: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I began reading mysteries and I always liked the ones with relationships between the “detectives” and this book fits right in that tradition. While the mystery is interesting and keeps the pace of the story lively, what I really love about this book is the strength and independence of Kat and her relationship with the mysterious Daniel.

Kat is strong and lively and I loved reading about her struggles. Unlike most women in historical novels, Kat works hard every day and has a career that she has created for herself. It is interesting to read about her daily life and the status differences “below stairs”. The struggles and limitations on women of all status is emphasized here.

Daniel’s character is also intriguing as he has plenty of secrets that are slowly revealed — although not all of them are uncovered in this book. He is a good match for Kat and his obvious caring and concern for her even while they are friends makes their romance a slow burn but an interesting one.

The cast of characters, which includes the offspring of both Kat and Daniel, are tossed into a high stakes mystery. Like all good murder suspense stories, this one begins with what seems to be an insignificant death and eventually turns into quite a big deal through a series of twisty plot turns.

I enjoyed the mystery as well as the romance in this one. Everything meshed so well so that all the interesting characters were given something important to do in the unfolding plot, but no one seemed out of place. I enjoyed this one and would read it again to see all the little turns that I missed.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a continuing series where the romance between Kat and Daniel is slow moving and part of the continuing storylines of the series with a book emphasis on a particular mystery.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEATH BELOW STAIRS is the first novel in the Kat Holloway Murders series. There is a prequel book that introduces the characters. While it is not necessary to read that novella first, it certainly provides some background to the characters here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via First to Read by applying points that I earned. 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: 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: Red Wolf

Review: Red WolfRed Wolf by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #10
Published by Berkley Books on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 336
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A friends to lovers story with an exciting mythology laden plot, Dimitri and Jaycee — red wolf and leopard — are an exciting pairing.

THE STORY: Shifter Dimitri is a red wolf and has had to fight for most of his life because of his uncommon nature and because of his stutter. He has mate claimed leopard shifter Jaycee but she hasn’t decided whether or not to accept his claim. When they are asked to investigate some shifters who are involved in mysterious and perhaps dangerous actions, the two are challenged both in their relationship and also their lives.

OPINION: This friends to lovers story has depth because these characters are challenged again and again in their relationship. There is also an intriguing story that keeps the pace of the novel hopping. Dimitri and Jaycee are already comfortable together but the story asks the question — are they meant to be together forever as mates or is their friendship with occasional benefits what they are meant to have.

Jaycee is a strong, kick-butt heroine. She is certainly Dimitri’s equal the two are partners and friends who are challenging one another. I loved how their relationship develops as challenges comes from all quarters. Again and again, these two have to evaluate what they want from their relationship.

There is a little slow start to the story, but once Dimitri and Jaycee are off on their mission, the pace picked up quite a bit.

I love the Shifters world and this book expands the mythology of the series in ways that I can’t wait to see what develops.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has a reveal that sets up the next stage of the overarching storyline.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RED WOLF is the tenth book in the Shifters Unbound series. This series is much better read in order although the romance is self-contained in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-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: 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