When the devil wants a deal, there’s no bowing out gracefully.
Hades’ Carnival, Book 2
At twenty-nine, Hollywood scream queen Kellsie Morris is acutely aware the clock is ticking on her career. Luckily, the one big role she needs to pad her retirement fund has just come through—the story of an immortal, shape-shifting warrior trapped in a carnival run by the Devil’s minions.
When Kellsie arrives on set, she can’t resist climbing aboard an amazingly realistic carousel bear—and finds herself flung into a world where the horror is real. As real as the heat radiating off the half-naked hunk in her arms.
Marko has waited an eternity for the chance to free his goddess, the Lady of the Beasts, and his fellow warriors from an ancient curse. But once he lays eyes on Kellsie, he knows to the bottom of his soul that his purpose is to protect her life.
But in this hellish game, it’s the Devil’s move. And there’s no predicting when and where the final, brutal stroke will fall—and which lover will pay the ultimate price.
Warning: This book contains a heroine who’s a screamer—in and out of bed—and a warrior who gives a whole new meaning to “method”. After reading, please use caution when standing up. Your knees may be weak.
Since I read the first book in this series, Night of the Tiger, I already knew what to expect as far as general plot. Heroine rescues trapped hero and they have to work together to stay alive for twenty-four hours or Hades gets both of their souls. But because I also am a big fan of N.J. Walters, I know that even when she does a series, each book is unique. There are no cookie-cutter storylines with her. Yes, it’s the same scenario, but the characters, the background, and the details are very different. Not once when I was reading this book did I think, “oh yawn, I’ve read this before”, and that’s the hallmark of a great series for me. If an author can redraw the same scenario in each book so that it feels different, then it’s a winner. Continue reading →
Two men will stop at nothing to have her gift, her desire … and her love.
The Prophecy, Book 1
Years ago, with the healing abilities afforded by her blend of Aztec and extraterrestrial blood, Liz was free to do as she wished. Now she is trapped in a blood feud, forced to heal one of her clan’s most dangerous rivals so they can exploit his gift of prophecy.
As she drapes her nude body over his, the rush of his returning strength overwhelms her, and his stunningly sensual caress pushes her to her sexual limit.
Zeke Neekoma never expected to hunger for a woman he’s supposed to hate, but now that he’s tasted her, he has no intention of denying himself the pleasure of her body—or of kidnapping his enemy’s most cherished plaything.
Brought to Zeke’s stronghold to heal his brother, Jacob, Liz surrenders her body’s most traitorous needs to the unrestrained desires of two powerful men. And the brothers fill the lonely void she has too long endured.
But her clan doesn’t intend to let her go without a fight…and the ecstasy that binds Liz to her lovers could be the thing that breaks them.
Warning: Worlds collide when two Alpha males crave a woman they shouldn’t have. Their dominance and desire knows no limits, culminating in sex so torrid this babe’s never gonna be the same…or free of one brother’s touch.
This book was a complete and utter surprise from beginning to end. First, I read the description and completely pictured a story taking place a thousand years ago. All the historical buzzwords were there – clan, Aztec, blood feud, healer – but it actually takes place in the present. But it’s a present that is deeply steeped in the history of the Aztecs, interwoven with sci-fi tidbits like healing abilities and alien ancestors.
The story opens with Liz Munez, a doctor, who is also a powerful healer. Her father is being held by a really nasty man named Carreon, and Carreon is using her father to force her to heal people at his command. She’s a strange dichotomy. On the one hand, she loathes Carreon. She loved him at one time even though he was a thoroughly abusive asshole who shared her sexually with his people. Now, she fears and loathes him but also accepts that he can control her because he has her father held prisoner. She appears to be strong willed, but she is easily controlled because she fears for her father’s life. When Carreon shows up at her office and demands she heal someone for him, all it takes is one mention of her father and she follows willingly. She swears to kill him if he hurts her father, but they’re empty threats that even Carreon recognizes.
Carreon is one evil SOB. He is the leader of a clan of their people, who is trying to destroy their enemies. He uses Liz to heal his wounded men. He’s charming, smiling broadly while he lies, and he wants Liz by his side forever. He’s a perfect bad guy: ruthless with his enemies, willing to step over innocents to save his own hide, and utterly entranced with himself.
Zeke Neekoma is the leader of his clan. They’re different from Liz and Carreon’s people, rumored to be descended from aliens. Their people have the power of sight – the ability to see into the future – and Zeke is the most powerful of their people. He is a man that has been deeply scarred by loss through Carreon, who killed his beloved daughter, Gabrielle. He had a vision of Liz and was ambushed by Carreon on his way to save her. Near death, he’s healed by Liz and promises to keep her alive if she comes with him. His animosity for her, when he assumes she is still Carreon’s willing lover, shifts quickly as his desire for her grows. He needs her, he wants her, and he’ll have her whether she likes it or not.
Secondary characters include Zeke’s brother Jacob, who engages in the most ridiculous form of sibling rivalry ever. When he sees that Zeke wants Liz, he promptly decides to go after her himself. He appears to be immature, only interested in on-upping his older brother. Liz’s father is a very powerful healer. He would rather die than heal on command for Carreon or anyone else. He is the very definition of a strong-willed person. Kele is part of Zeke’s clan and in love with Jacob. She throws herself at him again and again, only to be rebuffed. She can’t take a hint and blames Liz for coming between her and the man she loves. In a fit of rage and grief, she does something so stupid that I wanted to reach into the book and smack her. This book has a lot of bad guys – an entire clan of them as a matter of fact – but Kele isn’t a bad guy, she just makes bad decisions.
This book is very raw and graphic. Through Liz’s memories, we learn about all the things that Carreon forced her to do with himself and his men. I’m not a big fan of the “c” word, and Liz uses it in her own thoughts and I find that a bit surprising. Aside from the harsh language, the book is heavily suffused with sex. Liz’s special healing abilities come from her touching skin to skin with the person she’s healing. If they’re very badly injured, she will have to have sex with the injured person in order to completely heal them. In the past with healings, Carreon treated her like a toy, watching her heal his injured men and then having sex with her before passing her around to his people. There are times when she remembers these events with shame and others when she is turned on at the memories. I found her wishy-washy thoughts to be a bit confusing.
Overall, this was a decent book with deep characters and a well-thought-out storyline. It was an engaging story that I had a hard time putting down once I started reading it, but I never really connected with Liz like I wanted to. I liked Zeke and even Jacob, but Liz didn’t come across as sympathetic which, in the end, is what lead me to not enjoy the story as much as I wanted to. Normally, if I was reading a story about a sexually abused woman who finally finds a man worth loving, I’d be cheering for her. But this story left me feeling cold towards Liz. She bounced between too many beds all for the sake of healing and it made it difficult for me to care about what happened to her.
Hi everyone! Liz is here with a wonderful and fitting guest post. I really don’t have anything to add to this, other than Liz is awesome, and I’m really glad she and her family and friends are ok. <3
This spring, my husband and I purchased a second home on a lagoon off the bay near Atlantic City, on the coast of New Jersey. Over the summer, my family and I enjoyed swimming in the lagoon and bay, fishing, and boating, as well as the Atlantic City Boardwalk and local beaches. It was idyllic and amazing, and it was like a mini vacation every weekend.
Then a few weeks ago, we got news that a hurricane was headed directly for the shore, and by all reports it would be worse than any hurricane before. We spent the weekend before it hit getting the house ready for the storm. We put our furniture up on tables, emptied the fridge, and turned off the power to prevent surges. Our town had an evacuation order for 4 p.m. We said goodbye to our neighbors, who were going to “stick it out” instead of evacuating. I remember looking out the back of the SUV as we pulled away from the house and wondering if our street – our house – would ever be the same.
We spent the next two days suspended in a frightening sort of limbo, as we wondered if our family, friends, and neighbors had made it safely through, and if our home was still standing. We felt completely helpless. We were safe in our inland home on the Jersey side of Philadelphia, and didn’t even lose power. We were so fortunate. Amazingly, incredibly fortunate.
My husband spent Monday night on his cell, answering texts from family and friends and keeping everyone updated. When the Hurricane was at its worst point and we were unable to help anyone, it was a terrible feeling. We stayed up that night until the high tide had reached its highest point and didn’t go any higher. Only when we knew that the flood waters were as high as they would go, and our family and friends were okay, did we go to bed, our hearts heavy and our minds still reeling. Just a foot higher, and my brother-in-law’s home would have flooded. My mother-in-law had water almost to her front door. Our neighbors had four feet of water in the garage of their two-story home, just inches away from coming into their house.
I know what many of you are thinking. Why didn’t they leave? And the truth is, I can’t answer that. For our neighbors and family members who stuck it out, I can only tell you that they told us later that they didn’t know it would get that bad. They hadn’t anticipated just how violent and destructive the storm was actually going to be as the water surged over the lagoons, submerging cars parked in the street, floating boats away from the homes and docks, and destroying so very much.
I grew up in Ohio. I’ve been in so many tornadoes that they don’t even worry me. Hear the siren? Head to the basement. A tornado is a terrifying, destructive force that moves quickly. But a hurricane? That’s a guest that stays far too long and causes unimaginable damage. You can’t possibly predict what a hurricane will do, and that’s what makes them so dangerous. People will wait and wait, saying that they’ve been through so many and nothing ever happened to them before. And that’s the problem. Familiarity breeds contempt. A newbie to hurricanes like myself finds them terrifying on a cellular level. I want to leave New Jersey and go back to safe Ohio. But people who have lived here for a long time or grew up here, are the ones that stayed behind, trusting the past hurricanes to be a good judge for Sandy. But they weren’t. And the sad, sad truth is that people died, homes and belongings were destroyed… because you just can’t fully predict what nature can do.
A few days ago, I went to see our home, which had to be completely gutted to remove the damage that four feet of bay water did to it. The streets of our shore town are cluttered with furniture, flooring, and debris, sometimes piled so high you can’t see the houses behind it. When I walked through the door and saw the walls missing, the flooring pulled up, and the kitchen entirely dismantled, I first expected to feel sad. The house has character. It’s survived forty-some years without ever having it’s walls cut apart by contractors, or it’s sink pulled out of the wall.
But I wasn’t sad. I was thankful. I’m thankful that the house itself still stands and our boat is still on the trailer in our yard. I’m thankful that my neighbors across the street found shelter in another neighbor’s two-story home to escape the flood waters. And I’m mostly thankful that my children, my husband, and my in-laws and their families are all safe, too. What I kept reminding myself as I surveyed the destruction around the shore town was that things can be replaced, but people can’t.
So during this time of thankfulness, I urge you to do what I’m going to do, and look around the dinner table and just be thankful.
And… well, because I’m me, and today is THE BIG GAME… and I think Liz will be okay with it… 😀
In the first of a dazzling new romantic trilogy, one woman’s courageous search plunges her into a millennia-old supernatural war–and an irresistible passion. . .
Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies. . .and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally-sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.
As an avid sci-fi/paranormal fan, I knew when I began reading Hearts of Darkness that I was in for a wild ride. Set in present-day Seattle, the story opens from first hero Hart’s POV and then heroine Kayla’s POV. Werewolf Hart has only one thing on his mind and that’s finding the key to the Gate so he can get out from under his blood-debt to his boss. The only thing on Kayla’s mind? Identifying her murdered sister’s body.
Kayla Friday is a unique character in a book filled with incredibly unique characters. On the surface, she is simply a human woman filled with grief and determined to find out who killed her sister and why. Underneath that, we find that she is a strong-willed, compassionate woman who trusts too easily. When she is first given a glimpse into the supernatural world all around her, she is struck with disbelief. She powers through that disbelief, knowing that the secret to her sister Desi’s demise came at the hands of someone in this newly revealed world that is invisible to humans. Hart tells her to run as far and as fast as possible, but true to her character, Kayla stays, desperate to know what happened to her sister. She’s attacked, drugged, taken against her will, and betrayed, but still she finds the strength to keep going.
Hart is a werewolf. There are several groups of shifters, including the new-to-me Thunderbirds (think human-sized black birds). An outcast, Hart has a chip on his shoulder the size of California and is only doing what he has to do to free his soul. Blood-bound to Norgard, a dragon shifter and all-around bad-guy, Hart must complete tasks in order to free his soul and escape. Complex on a hundred different levels, Hart is a mercenary that thought he needed no one but himself. A classic look-out-for-number-one sort of man, he finds himself surprised at Kayla’s ability to trust in him and just how much he likes her faith. Hart was a sexy, likeable, frustrating character. At times I wanted to both hug him and strangle him.
At war in this world are the Kevarti and the Drekar. The Drekar have vowed to help humanity, the Kevarti just want to rule the world. Shifters abound, both in the furry and feathered form, and in the dragon form as well. In the world that Kira created, the humans are unbelievably obtuse to everything supernatural that is happening around them, explaining away things they don’t understand. I really, really enjoyed the world because she turned everyday things into supernatural occurrences. The need for gaslights? It’s because the aether (which is a supernatural thing) causes the lights to go out. Cars won’t start? Ghosts. It was clever and added a touch of realism to a completely unrealistic world, which is just exactly what a paranormal book needs to be plausible.
I love mythology. As a teen I devoured books about ancient Greece and the gods and goddesses. Hearts of Darkness treads heavily in the world of ancient beings, and in some ways it bogged the book down for me. So many names and histories and words that needed explanations. It felt at times that I should be taking notes so I would remember the players’ names and connections. Ancient history lessons abound as Kayla is let into the world by slow degrees, learning about curses, other realms, possessions, ghosts and what happened to her sister, Desi. And in a world where even the good guys do bad things, it was hard to know just whose side who was on.
I’ll be blunt: the book is complicated. But it’s also wonderfully written, engaging, and sexy. This isn’t a book you can flip through casually, because it’s enchanting and complex and worth every minute that you’ll spend devouring it. As a lover of all things paranormal, I felt right at home in Seattle with Kayla and Hart as they tried to reconcile their growing attraction and face an uncertain future where life hangs in the balance. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series.
Vegas Top Guns, Book 1
Desire as reckless as a fighter jet in freefall…and just as dangerous.
As part of the 64th Aggressor Squadron, Major Ryan “Fang” Haverty flies like the enemy to teach Allied pilots how not to die. The glittering excess of the Strip can’t compare to the glowing jet engines of his F-16. But a sexy, redheaded waitress in seamed stockings? Now she gets his blood pumping.
Cassandra Whitman’s good-girl ways haven’t earned any slack from her manager ex-boyfriend, or prevented a bad case of frazzle from holding down two and a half jobs. She sure wouldn’t mind letting the handsome Southern charmer shake up her routine.
Their wild weekend lives up to Sin City’s reputation. Especially when they discover a matched passion for role-playing. For Cass, it’s an exciting departure from her normal, shy persona. But for Ryan, it triggers memories of a time when his fetish drove away the woman he loved–leaving him reluctant to risk a repeat performance.
Except Cass refuses to settle for ordinary ever again. She’s about to show the man with hair-trigger hands that she’s got a few surprise moves of her own.
Warning: This book contains dirty-hot role-playing, featuring an all-alpha fighter pilot and an ambitious waitress with a fabulous imagination. Also: dressing-room sex, a plaid schoolgirl skirt, and a sprinkling of spankings.
I’m not even really sure where to start talking about this book. It’s just an incredible story on so many levels that putting one first seems almost impossible. Katie Porter, I’ve come to learn, is the name of the writing team of Carrie Lofty and Lorelie Brown. I haven’t read anything by either author prior to this collaboration, so I had no expectations going into the story except to – hopefully – enjoy myself and I really, really did. I haven’t read many role-playing books before this one, usually finding the odd “dress like a cheerleader” request in the romance novels I normally choose, so picking this one that has role-playing as a central theme was new for me. When I think of role-playing I automatically think about the French Maid costume, but Katie opened up my eyes with this story, weaving a tantalizing tale about a man who isn’t sure he should like the things he does, and a woman who really would do anything for the right man.
As a girl who enjoys a man in uniform (my hubby was in the navy), Major Ryan Haverty already had brownie points with me in the hotness category. His odd fascination with waitress Cass’ seamed stockings as she took his order at the restaurant where she worked started the first of many quirks that came to define him as a character. Ryan, known to his fellow soldiers as Fang, is a dual personality – one part of him is what he perceives as normal and the other part kinky, specifically into role-playing. In Ryan’s case, he’s desperate to keep the kinky part of himself well hidden, so deeply buried that it won’t ever come out. The problem with secrets, as we all know, is that eventually they come out and Ryan was ill prepared for the fall-out. Ryan’s reasoning for squashing his kinky fantasies is two-fold. One, he’s an officer in Air Force, stationed at a nearby base, so indulging in role-playing in public could cause problems with his job. And the other is that he once got his heartbroken by a woman that he revealed his kinkiest needs to and swore to not do that again. What I really found fascinating about Ryan’s development in the story is that just one taste of fantasy for him and he slowly unraveled into a downward spiral of self-loathing and recrimination. As the reader, we’re treated to his POV, and the disgust he feels for his suddenly increasing fantasies involving Cass roll off the page. You can feel how much he hates himself, how much he wishes he didn’t like to role-play, how frightened he is when it clearly overwhelms him and pushes at the careful boundaries of his ordered life. On the outside, Ryan is a hero and a leader, a man with loyal friends who has seen battle and lived to tell about it. On the inside, however, Ryan is a festering mess of conflicted feelings, desires, and needs.
Cass was positively brilliant. When challenged, she proved herself to be up for anything. She was a heroine that I could get behind and cheer for. What I found most interesting about her character was her background and family. Her family is wonderful and amazing, but very smothering and insistent that she helps with the family business. You get to see the way she feels pulled in separate directions – one for her passion of art and the other to support her family – and it’s not until Ryan’s influence that she begins to see herself as the independent woman she really is. Her character flowered spectacularly. There were no abrupt changes of heart or sudden decisions, but a gradual bloom that seemed real and earnest. When her heart is breaking, her chin is held high and her belief in herself keeps her from accepting anything less than everything she deserves. For that reason alone, Cass has become one of my new favorite female characters.
Secondary characters include Cass’ parents, her sister, brother-in-law and niece and Ryan’s fellow Air Force pilots. Cass’ parents are the overbearing sort that expect their children to be happy living the dreams of their parents and not their own. Their tour company is in trouble and the guilt comes out in buckets when Cass tries to improve her position at an art gallery so she can do what she loves for a living. I loved to see her take her own life by the horns and make a stand for herself. It’s one thing for a woman to stand up to a man about what she will and will not tolerate in a relationship, but it’s an entirely different, earth-shattering thing for a woman to stand up to the people who raised her and do her own thing. Ryan’s two pilot friends, Tin Tin and Princess, are colorful and fun. Tin Tin comes from money and comes across as an arrogant pretty-boy that would toss a girl aside when he’s done with her. While it may be true in some ways, he shows his true nature when he stands by Princess’ side while she’s heaving up her drinks in the bathroom. Now, who doesn’t want a guy like that? And as for Princess, she’s got some serious issues. Wound as tight as a spring, she seems to have no off-switch, flipping from calm and controlled to wild and berserk with no stops in between. Both characters have their own stories in this series, and I think their characters are well worth looking into and deserve their own stories.
I can’t review the book without talking about the sex. Holy role-playing Batman! This book is just packed full of fantastic sex. Each scene is unique as they move forward in their relationship, switching between sweet vanilla sex and kinky sex, initiated most often by Cass. Cass has an internal radar that seems to sense whenever Ryan is turned on by something, and she turns the tables on him as often as she can. Ryan struggles internally throughout the role-playing. Like a dieter who eats a big piece of cake, he loves it at the time and hates himself afterwards, afraid that if Cass would find out the depths of his desire for role-playing that she would walk out on him. I can’t even tell you the crazy things that they do without giving up too much of the story, but suffice it to say that although the book starts off with a bang (literally), the characters and the storyline don’t suffer for the attention to sexy details. Well balanced, the loving is exactly what the story needed to ratchet it up a few million notches, from a romance about a pilot and a waitress to a sizzling story about just how much fun two consenting adults can have when they open their minds to the possibilities.
When I first began reading the story, I wasn’t really prepared for how much I would like the characters and become invested in their lives. The story grips you by the neck and doesn’t let go, while you watch the lovers dance. This story has got so much going for it, between the role-playing, the family issues, and the characters coming to terms with what they want in their lives, this book is full to the brim with heat and passion. Unlike other stories in this vein that might focus solely on the sex, Porter broadens the scope to share the life-altering decisions that both Cass and Ryan make as they explore the kinkier, darker side of pleasure.
He will protect her. No matter the threat.
The Elect. They aren’t human. They’re the next step in evolution and they’re hiding in plain sight. They’re stronger, smarter, and faster. Nature’s perfect predator.
Welcome to the top of the food chain.
Braxton Lee is the protector of the Elect and it’s a job he takes seriously. As president of the committee that governs the Elect, he overseas everything from finance to security to keeping their existence hidden. He’s driven and ruthless. The Elect will not be exposed on his watch.
Unfortunately his research chief, Zach Littman, is contacted by a former colleague who’s run a DNA analysis of a blood sample and gotten weird results. The blood isn’t human, and Dr. Esme Durand is smart enough to know it. Brax will do whatever it takes to keep her silent. Until he meets her. Because Esme has a secret. She’s one of them. Brax wants nothing more but to bring her into the fold and into his bed.
Warning: This book contains hot sex, the next evolution of mankind, hot sex, a race to find a bad guy, a hot hero trying to prove his love, and did I mention the hot sex?
As a child of the 80s, I grew up with a healthy fascination of all things sci-fi from the hilarious ALF to Alien Nation to the revival of Twilight Zone. Protector, at its core, is a sci-fi book about a new generation of humans, in which a small number have been born with some pretty amazing psychological and physiological talents, including mind-reading and thought projection. I haven’t read anything by Loribelle before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I hoped for, when I read the blurb and saw the cover (he reminds me of a young Jeremy London), was that she would be able to mix the futuristic idea of human evolution in modern times and make it work. And she does! After just the first chapter, I found myself wishing I had some of the talents that she mentions her characters have. Such as, I’d love to know what my husband is really thinking when he says “whatever you want,” when I know for sure he doesn’t really mean that. Loribelle starts the book off with a bang, and keeps the momentum going. It’s not a novella, but it’s not a full-length book either (under 100 pages), and she manages to weave a compelling and curious world about the Elect, a secret society of advanced human beings that have been around since the 50s.
Brace yourselves, kids, because I’m about to rant about alpha-holes again. On the surface, I like Brax. Hot, sexy, protective, good at keeping secrets. But under that, is a man that expects things to go his way all the time. When he meets Esme, it’s not too long before he figures out that she’s his mate. (As an avid reader of paranormal books, I don’t have any trouble accepting the instant-mate-attraction that most of these books contain, although usually for me, one or more of those involved gets furry once a month…but I digress.) Brax knows that Esme has got nary a clue about what her powers really mean, the special group that she’s now part of, or that Brax is her mate. Instead of just giving her time, he pushes. Pushes her to accept their connection, pushes her to make decisions after a crisis that would knock anyone on their butt. He can’t stand that she’s feeling torn about her brother and nephew, that she would choose her family over him when she’s only known him for a minute. He’s been waiting years for his mate; she never knew that anyone besides herself and her brother had extra powers. So the protectiveness, instead of giving me the warm-fuzzies, makes me want to tell Esme to run far away in the other direction.
Esme is a perfect heroine. Plucky, independent, loyal, smart, and not swayed by heaven in tight pants. When her world is flipped upside down, she wants to first protect her brother and nephew and then second, go back to work. I love that. I love that even when she was in Brax’s arms, she was still her own person, not carried away in a flood of hormone fueled oohs and aahs, but grounded and steadfast. When she is rightly confused about the new world that is suddenly open to her after an attempt is made on her life, she doesn’t drown in her anxiety and reach out for the first strong pair of male arms. She demands answers and she reasons her situation out. As a scientist, she wants to seek the answers to questions about herself and family, find the cure to her nephew’s mysterious illness, and lastly figure out just who these Elect are and what that means for her.
The few secondary characters in the story – her fellow scientist Zach, her brother Carter, and her nephew Kaden – are not well drawn. Zach is virtually invisible as a character, only a vehicle with which her scientific discovery of something unique in a blood sample is given to the Elect. Carter is angry and reserved, played as a typical hardened military man who believes he and his personal resources and contacts can protect his son and sister better than the Elect. He has no time to grow as a character; he’s just an outline, a sketch. And little Kaden, who is so ill and no one has been able to figure out what is wrong with him…but he’s also lost in the sea of the non-memorable, half-drawn cast.
I had no trouble with the “science” of the story. Loribelle created a world in which ordinary humans eventually began to evolve new powers, and as such they knew they needed to be kept secret to prevent the government from experimenting on them. The way she wrote the story makes that seem not only plausible, but possible, and for me, that just makes the story. As an avid reader of both straight sci-fi and paranormal romance, I would have preferred this story without the romantic sub-plot because it detracted from the story that needed much more fleshing out and the characters that needed more time to develop.
What bothered me most about the story, besides Brax’s arrogant behavior, was the ending. There I was, reading along, when WHAM! it’s over. It ended so abruptly, and with so many loose ends, that I actually thought the book had been cut off accidentally. But I couldn’t ignore The End. I don’t mind the occasional cliffhanger, but this ending took the cake, and in essence, ruined what had been up to that point a decent read. The characters had some major emotional reveals in the last few paragraphs, when up to that point neither had really been given the chance to show that they were moving to those conclusions. I can suspend disbelief about a lot of things, but the revelations coupled with the abrupt ending brought me right back to a reality in which I didn’t care for this book and I won’t be looking for any further in this series.
From the Journals of Sophia Noirot: A dress is a weapon. It must dazzle his eye, raise his temperature . . . and empty his purse.
A blue-eyed innocent on the outside and a shark on the inside, dressmaker Sophy Noirot could sell sand to Bedouins. Selling Maison Noirot’s beautiful designs to aristocratic ladies is a little harder, especially since a recent family scandal has made an enemy of one of society’s fashion leaders. Turning scandal to the shop’s advantage requires every iota of Sophy’s skills, leaving her little patience for a big, reckless rake like the Earl of Longmore. The gorgeous lummox can’t keep more than one idea in his head at a time, and his idea is taking off all of Sophy’s clothes.
But when Longmore’s sister, Noirot’s wealthiest, favorite customer, runs away, Sophy can’t let him bumble after her on his own. In hot pursuit with the one man who tempts her beyond reason, she finds desire has never slipped on so smoothly . . .
I haven’t ever read anything by Loretta Chase before, mainly because her genre is historical and that’s not my go-to (…which is paranormal. Now, if she wrote about werewolves at balls wearing the latest fashions from London, I might jump right on that!). But once I read the description and saw the gorgeous cover, I wanted to check it out. I follow several discussion boards about romance books and Loretta’s have come up time and again, so when I had an opportunity to get an ARC of one of her books, it was no contest.
Sophy Noirot is adorable. I absolutely loved her character. She was a clever mix of innocent maiden and sultry temptress. She was used to seeing skin as a dressmaker, and her sister Marcelline is married and has shared secrets of the bedroom with her, but other than kissing, she’s still an untried woman. In a time when women fainted frequently and spectacularly, Sophy is a breath of fresh air. She dons costumes and crashes high class affairs to spy for a gossip rag, she only faints when she needs to create a distraction, and she is fiercely protective and loyal to her sisters and their business. When Clara, the sweet, extremely innocent younger sister of Harry Longmore finds herself in an incredibly compromising position, Sophy shows herself to be witty, selfless, and willing to do anything to see all their problems solved.
Harry Longmore is a rake. I love that word when it describes a man in a historical novel. It brings to mind all sorts of seedy, naughty things. But the truth is that I really didn’t know what the term meant so I had to look it up. I was positive that Longmore was a rake, but I had to make sure. Turns out…it’s a perfect word for him. A rake, which I’m sure you historically-reading folks know, is a man that’s wanton, loose, corrupt and many other fun things. Basically, a male whore. Good times! But underneath the gorgeous visage, the tailored clothing, and the unashamed way he plays with women, is a man who loves his family and will do anything for them. And he’s completely entranced by Sophy from the start. When the book shifts to his point of view, we’re treated to his hilarious inner monologue as he argues with himself about his self control where Sophy is concerned, and his growing feelings for her. Charming and protective with a wry sense of humor, he’s a great leading man.
The most innocent of the women in the story is Longmore’s sister Clara. So innocent! I loved her, I felt sorry for her, I wanted to stand up to the rogue who put his hands on her myself! When she runs away, I admired her courage even as I cringed knowing just how unprepared she would be for the real world. But the very act of running away spoke volumes about one woman who had enough of polite society telling her what she could and couldn’t do with her body, and who she could do those things with.
Sophy’s sisters are background players but important to Sophy, not only as her business partners but as her family. Marcelline and the youngest, Leonie, help Sophy as she and Longmore set out to find Clara and bring her home and fix the awful mess she found herself in. And little Fenwick, the pocket-picking orphan that Sophy takes under her wings is charming and endearing. I loved his cockneyed accent, the way he used an “f” in place of “th”, so he would say “fings” instead of “things”. Longmore spends a good bit of time correcting the poor boy. Sophy uses him to spy around town in exchange for giving him a place to stay and food to eat. His addition to the adults in the story was funny and added another layer to an already colorful cast of characters.
Sophy, as a dressmaker, is privy to the highest fashion and the descriptions of her outfits were vividly painted. I could picture the lace and bows, the billowy sleeves and the outrageous hats. I’m really glad I didn’t live in a time when I had to have so many layers on! What an ordeal to get dressed and undressed.
While I often say that I won’t read historical novels, I do actually have a few good reasons for it. One, I don’t like to read stories where the heroine is a virgin. They squick me out and I find them (often) hilariously overrated. We should all be so lucky (but I digress). And I really don’t like reading about the time in history when double standards were so ridiculous. I loved that Loretta broached this very subject during a conversation between Sophy and Longmore, when she suggested that he took advantage of her by being such a good kisser and she was overwhelmed. How easy it would be for him to do something to her to “ruin” her in public, when she was dizzy from being kissed so well. This double standard is what bothers me about historical novels, that a man can feel up a woman and walk away unscathed with only the “rake” moniker as a warning to future women, but the woman herself is sometimes forced to marry said rake to save her good name and that of her family. I know that this is historically accurate, but it’s part of why I don’t (usually) read novels from this time period. I’ll take books after women’s lib for $500, Alex.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. Once I opened the book, I found myself completely entranced with the world that Loretta spun and thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were well developed, the descriptions of the people, clothing, and journey were amazing, and the plight of not only Sophy but her sisters and Clara were engaging. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
The Noah sisters rule Titan High with their beauty, brains, and magical powers.
Each year they play a secret game: Crushed. The girls pick their targets carefully and blow enchanted dust into the boy’s faces, charming them, but this year Kristen makes a grave mistake. She chooses the wrong boy and almost dies that same day. Coincidence? Maybe.
But something isn’t quite right about Zach Bevian. He doesn’t behave like a boy who’s been Crushed. He goes from hot to cold, from looking at her with contempt to asking her out on a date. She doesn’t know what to think. Does he hate her or is he truly falling for her? Is he trying to kill her, or is he trying to save her?
This YA novel is set in the hallways of fictional Titan High, where three witch sisters – Kristen, Brittany, and Cindi – walk among mortals who are none the wiser to their powers. The puppy loves spell allows them to control their choice, and they increase their power over him by asking him to complete tasks. Each completed task draws him further under the girl’s control. The winner at the end of the semester is the one that has the boy under the most control, and the girl’s aren’t shy about having their choices do ridiculous and humiliating things to test their power. Kristen has plans to be the winner this year so she can afford a spectacular prom dress, when Brittany dares her to “crush” the baddest bad boy in school – Zach Bevian. Suddenly, the boy she hates is under her power, or so she thinks.
Kristen is older than her teenage years, striving to be the “good girl” and living up to the hard expectations that her father has leveled onto her since she was a child. She’s one of the unfortunately beautiful girls, who is smart and witty but floundering socially. They live with their father during the year and mother during the summer, and as the book moves forward we find that Kristen is feeling the noose of adulthood tighten around her neck while she is still young. So what’s a girl to do? Rebel, of course!
Zach Bevian is a young man with a secret, who harbors great resentment for the Noah sisters and their queen-bee behavior in school. Typical bad boy, Zach has the hot car, the hotter motorcycle, and the splendid body that girls drool over. His autistic sister Morgan is all that is left of his family, and he takes great care to not upset their home life. The book switches to his point of view at times, and the reader is given a glimpse into the burdens that weigh him down. I enjoyed that although he’s strong, he’s vulnerable with his sister. It gave his character depth.
Sisters Brittany and Cindi dress identically although they are triplets with Kristen. Cindi is the softer spoken of the two, but when tricked by Kirsten early on in the book, she proves to be just as much a wildcat as Brittany. Brittany is the ultimate bad-girl, skipping school and causing her father and sisters grief, while scheming to get back at Kristen for breaking the rules in the crush game.
I had only two real complaints with the way the characters were drawn in the book. First, the reason for Kristen’s deep hatred of Zach isn’t very clear. Although she knows him and he knows her, they don’t appear to hang in the same social circles, so the hate and the disgust at having to “crush” him seemed tacked on. We know why he doesn’t like her or her sisters, we just don’t know why she doesn’t like him. The other issue I have is that during the book, Kristen and her sister Brittany get into a supernatural standoff and begin attacking each other. Kristen says on more than one occasion that Brittany is going to kill her, but the statements are hollow. If I were in Kristen’s shoes and my sister wanted to kill me and could do it easily with magic, I’d be freaked out. Especially as a teenager. Although Kristen seeks help from her witch grandmother for a protection spell, the spell goes unused. The lack of urgency, teen angsty drama, or genuine fear left me wondering why I was worried about her life…if she wasn’t.
When I expected a simple “I’m not as bad as you think I am” romance between the two main characters, Blake added suspense to the budding romance, giving Zach plenty of opportunities to appear the knight for her. There were times when I didn’t really know who was causing trouble in Kristen’s life or what Zach’s many secrets were. The magic/fight scenes were fast paced and engaging, and one of my favorite parts was Kristen’s first real date. When she had Zach pick her up at the library so her father wouldn’t know, it took me back to my early dating days when the “bad boy” and I would meet somewhere besides my home so we could go out.
I haven’t picked up a YA book since I hopped on the bandwagon and read Twilight several years ago. While I definitely would have devoured this light supernatural romance as a teenager, I also enjoyed reading it as an adult. I’d be comfortable recommending it to my 14 year old niece, as well as any adult that enjoys a little suspense mixed in with a trip down memory lane to what it felt like to really like that first boy in high school, to anticipate that first kiss that played so perfectly in your mind. The world that Blake created was unique, from the witch council that everyone feared to the way the girls wove their spells. I found Crushed to be an enjoyable read overall and look forward to reading more from this author.
Charming and fun, but strictly for a specific audience, i.e., light romance (no sex as the characters are underage), paranormal aspects, suspense and for those that enjoy sarcastic teen witches and brooding boys finding love in the locker covered hallways in high school. This book is available on both Smashwords and Amazon.
Wolf Hills: A Brotherhood of Blood Novel by Bianca D’Arc Paranormal romance released by Samhain Publishing April 17, 2012
Danger prowls on two legs…
Detective Sally Decker’s Wyoming trip to visit her newlywed friend, Carly, turns into a dangerous adventure into the unknown when she learns Carly’s husband is a master vampire, and there’s a pack of werewolves living just up the road. As if that wasn’t alarming enough, the sexy Alpha wolf has taken a shine to her.
Jason Moore is an Alpha on a mission to make Sally his own. His very public seduction doesn’t sit well with the pack’s available females, but instinct tells him that Sally can handle anything, including any werewolf bitch dumb enough to challenge her.
Romance gives way to a call to arms when the pack’s children come under attack. Their rescue mission turns into a mating dance and the hunt is on in more ways than one. Their attraction is mind-bendingly hot, though startling revelations about his magic and her origins could drive a wedge between them forever. Can love help them bridge the chasm between their worlds?
Warning: This book contains bombs, bullets, bare-knuckled and bare-naked lust, and some serious ass kicking. Please do not feed the frisky furballs, unless you’re willing to risk drawing back a bloody nub.
The sixth book in the Brotherhood of Blood series brings Sally, the last single girl of a group of college friends, to Carly and her husband’s home for a well-deserved two week vacation. The first night, she’s told the truth about Carly, her vampire husband Dmitri, and their other married friends (their stories are told in the previous books – no spoilers here!). She’s immediately plunged into a world that she had no idea existed.
Sally is a typical tough-as-nails detective that “used” to love her job but is unhappy and unfulfilled now. She is looking forward to her vacation and spending time with Carly, but everything she ever knew about her friends comes crashing down around her head when she sees fangs for the first time and watches a young man shift into a werewolf. What she once knew as truth has been skewed, but she takes the situation in stride. Sally’s inner monologue as she considers things she never knew were possible is hilarious and when she proves herself to be quick thinking and willing to help, it’s clear there is more to her than meets the eye.
Jason is every bit the alpha for his pack – leader, hero, inspiration – but has a tender side for Sally that is endearing to watch bloom. There are a few sections from his point of view that share just how fast he comes to care about her and the choices he makes because of their differences.
Although the focus of the book is split between Sally and Jason’s blossoming romance and the mysterious hunters in the pack’s territory, some attention is given to the pack members themselves. Although secondary and tertiary characters abound, they are still drawn with depth so that it feels as if each character is important, no matter how small their part.
One of the things that I enjoy about Bianca’s books is her world-building. She makes vampires and werewolves seem plausible and her sexy-as-sin leading men are enough to set my kindle on fire. Wolf Hills is a well written story chock full of bullets, fangs, daring rescues, and plenty of red hot werewolf loving.
You can read an excerpt here, or buy the book here.
She escaped hell. Now love must capture her heart.
For eighteen horrific months, Chrissten Lawton was at the mercy of a crazy doctor and his pureblood werewolf flunky. She was subjected to experiments, beaten, mated against her will…and fading fast.
Just as she reaches the breaking point, the Haven pack comes to her rescue. Although any strange male makes her nervous, one of her rescuers stays by her side night and day, and something within her responds to this wolf’s gentleness.
From the moment Hank Brewer picked up Chrissten’s unique scent, he’s been driven to help her overcome her trauma-fed fears. He may be a half-breed, but he never does anything halfway. As he dedicates every waking moment to her healing, their fragile link leads them toward something they both hesitate to name.
But the danger isn’t past. Chrissten’s mate is still on the loose and he won’t rest until she—and the rest of Haven’s females—are taken for the cruel enjoyment of his rogue pack. Even though Hank would give his life to save her, the biggest challenge lies ahead. Admitting their love to each other.
Warning: This book contains an evil doctor, a crazy pureblood werewolf, a dysfunctional family, hunky werewolves, hot, sweaty sex, a daring rescue and a love that will make your heart sing.
I read a lot. And by a lot, I mean that I’m always reading a book. My goal for this year is to read 100 books, which averages to one every three days, give or take, and I’m already a dozen books ahead of schedule (thank you GoodReads). Because I read so much, I don’t often remember authors right away when I see a book that catches my eye, so I have to go looking for them to see if I’ve read something before. It’s nothing against the authors per se, it just means that I’m a harried mother of two young kids and most superfluous stuff not related to school or dinner or where the dog is, tends to slip right out of my mind. When I selected Finding Chrissten to read/review, I picked it because the premise of the book was interesting. It was later, when I actually looked up NJ Walters, that I realized why her name had sounded familiar – because I had already read several of her books and really liked them. Among her books, the Tapestries series is one that I really dig. Besides being hot and steamy, she writes her worlds and her characters so well that it’s easy to forget that it’s fantasy. A real mark of a fantasy author for me, is one that makes me forget that what they’re writing about isn’t actually plausible in real-life. Even though I had not read the previous books prior to Finding Chrissten, I had no trouble at all stepping into the series at book 5 because it was well written and engaging. Because NJ just writes that well. In Finding Chrissten, you feel Chrissten’s pain and vulnerability, the sheer madness of her mate, and the awesome determination of Hank. The characters don’t just leap off the page, they stand around you and watch you read.
When the book begins, we find Chrissten near death, locked in a cage and being experimented on by a demented doctor and brutally used by a werewolf claiming that she belongs to him. Just being rescued isn’t enough to put her at ease, as the months of degradation and abuse she suffered have taken their toll.
Chrissten emerges from her captivity a changed woman. No longer the sister that her brothers remember, she’s erected walls to protect herself from ever being a victim again. As a half breed of a human woman and a werewolf father, she and her twin brother turn to the father who never knew they existed for help in finding and destroying the wolf who claims her. She finds safety within Hank’s arms as she begins the road to recovery, but struggles to separate herself from him so she can face her mate on her own terms. She is the very definition of a survivor, choosing not to be a victim forever but gathering strength where she can to set her world right and protect the people that she loves.
Hank is a man that enjoys simplicity in his life, but falls for Chrissten, an incredibly complex woman with serious problems. Up to the challenge, he slowly shows her just what makes a real wolf, and helps her regain the things that she lost. He gladly opens his life to her, vowing to set her free even if he has to die to do it. The blossoming romance between the two is bittersweet and wonderful, as they both try and fail, but never quit.
The cast of characters is vast, including Chrissten’s twin Quinn, and their human half brother, Craig. They’re desperate to have her back safe, joining forces with the Chicago pack led by Isaiah and his mate Meredith, their own father and his pack, and utilizing the mysterious vampire, Damek. The pack is a family, and they accept Chrissten and her family readily when she’s rescued and she finds herself ensconced in genuine affection and care from people she only just met.
A sweet story about redemption, finding love, and survival, Finding Chrissten is a great addition to the Legacy series, but one that even new readers will enjoy. It’s full to the brim with possessive werewolves (both half-breeds and full-blooded), more than one rescue, a mostly broken but feisty half-breed woman, and a man that is willing to go to any lengths to protect her.