Tag Archives: Aidee’s Review

Team TBR Challenge Review: Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon Impulse on March 19, 2019

Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She’s finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.
Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?

This book has been on my TBR pile and got bumped up in the pile after it was mentioned in a Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast episode. And then I got to pick a novella for this month’s TBR Challenge, and I picked this book, and I only regret not reading it sooner. Reggie was first introduced to us in A Duke by Default, and the events in this novella happen parallel to those in that book. Most of the focus is on the relationship between Reggie and Gus but we do get doses of other relationships Reggie has, especially those with her sister and her parents. This is probably what I would call insta-love in terms of how the romance works, but the fact that the speed with which it’s acknowledged and the misunderstanding is also cleared up worked, and it didn’t feel rushed or forced. Continue reading

Review: Shatter the Earth by Karen Chance

Shatter the Earth (Cassandra Palmer Series Book 10) by Karen Chance
Urban fantasy/paranormal romance released by Karen Chance on February 4, 2020

Shatter the Earth by Karen Chance book coverIronically for the time traveling, chief seer of the supernatural world, time has never been on Cassie Palmer’s side. There has always seemed to be too much to learn, too much to master, and never enough hours in a day. But the tables have now turned, and the fluctuating timelines of earth and faerie are diverging, slowing time in faerie relative to earth, and giving humans an advantage for the first time in their war with the fey. It is one they desperately need, for a literal war of the worlds is about to take place.
To win, or even to survive, Cassie and her allies, the powerful vampire senator Mircea Basarab and the formidable war mage John Pritkin, will have to pull off their greatest feat yet. And find a way to become more than the sum of their parts.
[Also] The exciting continuation of the Cassie Palmer series! A literal war of the worlds is about to take place between Earth and Faerie. To win, or even to survive, Pythia Cassie Palmer and her allies, the powerful vampire senator Mircea Basarab and the formidable war mage John Pritkin, will have to pull off their greatest feat yet. And find a way to become more than the sum of their parts.
This is the next book in the Cassie Palmer series. It’s got all the things we’ve come to know about Chance’s world, and it ties up some important things that the books have been building towards. There are still some bad guys kicking around by the end, but not extreme cliff hanger levels. Cassie and Pritkin’s relationship solidifies, and Cassie continues to settle into her job.

There are explosions, violence, assassination attempts, magical mayhem galore—all the things you should expect in a Cassie Palmer novel. The fun part for me was that even though Cassie continues to be overwhelmed by her job, she also is trying to be more proactive about some of her problems, and is better able to react to all the magical mayhem at occurs. Pritkin doesn’t handle this development very well; he has a few my-lover-is-in-danger related scenes, but he eventually gets with the program and recognizes that Cassie’s ability to handle herself and others has improved. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon on December 1, 2020

When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.

A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.

By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen.

This book has been on my TBR pile (digitally speaking) for a while. I was hesitant to read this because Alyssa Cole often described it as a “Bluebeard” retelling, and that is not one of my favorite tales. However, I’m here to say that this isn’t a creepy or gory retelling, it is focused on the emotional structure of the story. The only tricky part for me about this book was fully comprehending Chanti’s motives, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book and cheering at the happy ending. Plus, we meet a secondary character that is hilarious and acts as a sort of catalyst, and for fans of Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, there are cameos by a lot of characters in this book. Chanti has a lot of drive, but she doesn’t know what she’s walking into when she agrees to marry Sanyu, who is not emotionally ready to be king or husband but who is willing to learn. This book is set in a fictional country on the continent of Africa and is interwoven with the places Cole has created in her Reluctant Royals series. Continue reading

Review: Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs

Wild Sign (Alpha and Omega book 6) by Patricia Briggs
Urban Fantasy released by Orbit on March 16, 2021

Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear–before it’s too late–in this thrilling entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling Alpha and Omega series.

In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It’s as if the people picked up and left their possessions behind. With a mystery on their hands and no jurisdiction on private property, the FBI dumps the whole problem in the lap of the land owner, Aspen Creek, Inc.–aka the business organization of the Marrok’s pack.

Somehow, the pack of the Wolf Who Rules is connected to a group of vanished people. Werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham are tasked with investigating, and soon find that a deserted town is the least of the challenges they face.

Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous–and it has met werewolves before.

I was very excited when I got my little hands on this book (digitally speaking) and I’ve re-read it, and every time I finish it, I’m left with that good book satisfaction that quickly turns to a sort of sadness that the book is over, the characters and their world no longer vividly a part of mine. All of this to say, I really enjoyed this book. This is the latest in the Alpha and Omega series, featuring the couple Anna and Charles. It is loosely tied to Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series, but I’ve read all the Alpha and Omega books without feeling like I was lost, so if you don’t want to read about twenty books to get up to speed on this one, you’ll be just fine. I do think that it is better to have read the other books in the Alpha and Omega series, because you get to see Anna and Charles develop as characters; you get to see them get even better as a couple; and you get to see secondary characters be more fleshed out, like Bram. Anna and Charles are on another mission on behalf of Bram (Charles’s father). The mission brings to light the pasts of Bram and his wife, which are tangled up with that evil mentioned in the blurb–and it really is pretty gruesome. That brings me to a content warning for abuse and incest–it isn’t on the page, but it is mentioned by other characters. What I enjoyed most, and what kept this book from becoming too creepy and scary for me, was Anna and Charles’s constancy and their warm relationship. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Dark Wizard by Jeffe Kennedy

*Editor’s Note: >.> OMG I’m going to go with “it’s Aidee not me” because 😜 it’s always her reviews right? But! This one I felt was necessary because we’ve never done it before. I don’t have the spoons to do the plug ins and coding for hide tags for spoilers – so I just made the font white, so in order to read the spoiler you have to highlight it. We’re taking it back old school and low tech.

Dark Wizard (Bonds of Magic Book 1) by Jeffe Kennedy
Fantasy romance released by Brightlynx Publishing on February 25, 2021

Dark Wizard by Jeffe Kennedy book coverShe ran from him… but couldn’t escape her heart.
Lord Gabriel Phel wants one thing: to rebuild the shattered fortunes of his people and restore his ruined house to its former station in the Convocation’s highest tiers of elegant society. Fortunately, through a wild chance of birth, he was born with powerful wizard magic, the first in his family in generations. If he can obtain a familiar to amplify his magic, a highborn daughter he can marry, to be mother to his children, he’ll be that much closer to saving his family. With her by his side, he can ascend to such a position of power in the Convocation that he can destroy it forever.

Lady Veronica Elal, captive in her tower, has only one way out. To her bitter disappointment, she will never be a wizard. Instead, through a twist of fate, and despite her expensive Convocation Academy education, Nic is doomed to be a familiar like her mother. Forced to participate in the Betrothal Trials, she receives a wizard suitor for one night each month. Whichever man impregnates her will bond her to them forever. With no choice but to serve the one who wins her, Nic has one hope for control over her life: a wizard she can manipulate.

Gabriel Phel seems like the perfect choice for Nic’s gambit—he’s desperate and untutored in wizardry—but within moments of meeting him, she feels the bonds of magic tying them together. Afraid of losing her will to the compelling wizard who touches her heart like no other, Nic does the unthinkable: she runs. Pregnant and alone, Nic eludes monstrous hunters, searching for a safe haven. But when Gabriel catches up to her, their adventure has only begun.

I love fantasy and I love romance, but it has been difficult to find a book that balances both genres well. I’m pleased to inform you that this book does that. The fantasy world Kennedy has built for this series is not the kind that has dragons and giants; it is closer to political intrigues and magic at an intimate level–I say intimate because it is used for things like providing light and heat without using a match, or getting clean drinking water, which is surprisingly complicated, or having a perfectly tailored gown without lots of buttons or a zipper. And because the way magic happens is through a symbiotic effort; the wizard directs the magic into spells, and to be most effective, uses a familiar that is more or less a battery, providing more magic for the wizard. This relationship affects the society that exists in this world, and consequentially Veronica and Gabriel’s relationship. And before I get too carried away, Veronica’s child is not in danger in this book. However, there are mentions of rape and abusive relationships throughout the book. If you prefer strictly HEA endings, I would suggest waiting until the series is completed, because this book ends on a Happy For Now ending. Continue reading

“Not” TBR Challenge Review: A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer

*Editor’s Note: I don’t normally do this but this was submitted by Aidee on July 21, 2019, and it was supposed to be a TBR Challenge Review. Obviously I have no idea which month/topic now and … *crawls under a rock* so – my apologies to Aidee, and Wendy the amazing organizer of the annual TBR Challenge, and other participants. [It also seems there are two blurbs/back cover copies, and they have sufficiently different information, so I’m adding both.]

A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer
Fantasy romance released by Ace on July 5, 2005

A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer book coverOn an alternate Earth, where the population is ninety percent female and a man is sold by his sisters to marry all the women in a family, Jerin Whistler is coming of age. His mothers are respected landed gentry, his grandfather a kidnapped prince, and his grandmothers common line soldiers blackballed for treason, trained by thieves, re-enlisted as spies, and knighted for acts of valor. Jerin wants to marry well, and his sisters want a husband bought by his brother’s price.
~*~*~*~
In a world where male children are rare, a man is a valuable commodity—to be sold to the highest bidder…

It isn’t easy being the oldest boy in a house run by women—especially for Jerin Whistler. The grand-matriarchs of his clan are descended from soldiers, spies, and thieves. That’s partly what’s kept their family alive in the wilderness. But it also means Jerin’s doomed to marry the girls next door—a fate he’s convinced is worse than death. But Jerin gets in even worse trouble when, in the process of a daring rescue, he falls in love with a royal princess who’s as high above his station as it’s possible to be.

Ren knows that Jerin is too far below her class to be an appropriate match for her and her royal sisters. But then she hears rumors of a long-held Whistler family secret—one that might provide a way for them to finally be together. Unfortunately, she still has four sisters to convince. And that’s before Jerin even comes to the capital—where simmering political tensions will threaten not just their love, but all their lives…

I’ve read this book more than once, but didn’t read it when it was first published in 2005. I wasn’t into romance at the time, and while this book has a healthy amount of court intrigue and is set in an alternate universe, a step sideways from ours, it focuses on the romantic relationship between Jerin and Ren, and to a lesser extent, Ren’s sisters. As the cover copy makes clear, this is a world where men have multiple wives, but it is a matriarchal society, not a patriarchal one. The cover image, I’m told, is misleading. I mostly enjoyed this book, though upon thinking about it for the review, I noticed somethings that left me feeling slightly uneasy. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children Book 6) by Seanan McGuire
Fantasy released by Tor on January 21, 2021

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire book coverA young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series.

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines—a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…

This is a poignant coming of age story, that depicts the realistic setting and the fantastical with equal, aching clarity. It is part of a series, but can be read alone, since characters from the other books in the series don’t make an appearance in this book, just a form of magic that is common to all the books and which is fairly easily explained. The cover copy describes Regan’s friendship situation as “complicated,” which I think is a bit of an understatement. Also, I felt worried for Regan at the end of the book, because I wasn’t sure how she would fit into a world that had not been easy for her before she went through the door into the Hooflands, and probably won’t be any easier for her on her return to this world. Mcguire handles topics like being intersexed, different forms of relationships, and making hard choices with aplomb. Continue reading

Review: Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

Ten Things I hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase
Historical romance released by Avon on December 1, 2020

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase book coverThis time, who’s taming whom…

Cassandra Pomfret holds strong opinions she isn’t shy about voicing. But her extremely plain speaking has caused an uproar, and her exasperated father, hoping a husband will rein her in, has ruled that her beloved sister can’t marry until Cassandra does.

Now, thanks to a certain wild-living nobleman, the last shreds of Cassandra’s reputation are about to disintegrate, taking her sister’s future and her family’s good name along with them.

The Duke of Ashmont’s looks make women swoon. His character flaws are beyond counting. He’s lost a perfectly good bride through his own carelessness. He nearly killed one of his two best friends. Still, troublemaker that he is, he knows that damaging a lady’s good name isn’t sporting.

The only way to right the wrong is to marry her…and hope she doesn’t smother him in his sleep on their wedding night.

This is a lovely retelling of The Taming of the Shrew that does not diminish either of the protagonists’ strengths as they fall in love with each other. Cassandra Pomfret is what one might consider a feminist activist, though she never uses those words to describe herself. She is not well liked for this reason. Ashmont, the duke in this story, is like many of Chase’s previous love interests–a man used to doing whatever he likes, but slowly realizing that isn’t the way to live his life. Both Cassandra and Ashmont have loving family and friends, which was great to see. My only quibble with this book, and it is tiny, is that the villains felt unequal to Cassandra and Ashmont. Continue reading

Review: Blacklisted by Jay Crownover

Blacklisted by Jay Crownover
Contemporary romance released by Forever on October 27, 2020

Blacklisted by Jay Crownover book coverDr. Presley Baskin has always lived a quiet, calm life. Unfortunately, nothing about her life in Loveless, Texas — especially not the wild, rowdy, and impossibly close-knit Lawton family who’ve claimed her — is quiet or calm. Which is how loner Presley finds herself roped into patching up local bad boy Shot Caldwell against her better judgment. Presley wants nothing to do with the dangerous, brooding leader of the local outlaw motorcycle club. But when someone starts stalking her, Shot is the only person she trusts to help. Plus he owes her one . . .
Palmer ‘Shot’ Caldwell has always known his life isn’t made for relationships. At least until shy, secretive, Presley reluctantly pulled a bullet out of him. He’s oddly protective of the pretty doctor, so when she comes to him for help, hard-hearted Shot suddenly realizes there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

I have not read a motorcycle club romance in a few years, so I was curious how this one would go. On the one hand, it was fairly easy to familiarize myself with the various family and friends of both of the main characters, and the plot and its conflict did not rely heavily on events in earlier books. On the other hand, the way mental illness is used in this book left me troubled after I finished it, which is why I delayed writing a review for this book. I’m also ethically uncomfortable with how a medical examiner is in a long-term relationship with the president of a motorcycle club by the end of the book, and this is clearly not a cuddly motorcycle club (like Rhenna Morgan’s Men of Haven). Presley is the medical examiner in the novel, and Palmer “Shot” is the motorcycle club president. Presley’s growth is perhaps best seen in how she stops retreating from good things in her life as the book progresses–she also stops retreating from bad things, which maybe isn’t a great development. Shot is more difficult to explain, partly because it felt as though he already knew he loved Presley from the beginning of the book, based on the little inner asides in his voice scattered throughout the book; his character arc is that he is willing to commit to Presley and express his feelings verbally. I wasn’t necessarily satisfied by these arcs, or the general plot. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
Urban fantasy released by Avon on August 25, 2020

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews book coverAs Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.

I really enjoy this series, and I really enjoyed this book. This book is the sequel to Sapphire Flames, and does a good job of not presuming the reader is familiar with the world or characters. However, things will make much more sense if you’ve read, at least, Sapphire Flames–you should definitely read all of the previous books, but you don’t have to. Also, there is a decent amount of on the page violence in this book, so if that makes you uncomfortable, this isn’t your book. Catalina is savvy, confident, ruthless, and loves her family deeply. She’s also trying not to become like her paternal grandmother, who does not have a good track record as a decent human being. The love interest is Alessandro, and while he doesn’t narrate any part of this book, we get a good sense of him from how Catalina describes their interactions and how the other characters react to him. In many ways, he is like Catalina, but without a supportive family or friends, and he’s changed from how he was in previous books. I keep mentioning Catalina’s family because they’re just as important as Catalina to the way the story unfolds, both in this book and over the course of the series. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is its ending, which is a bit of a cliffhanger. Continue reading