Tag Archives: Limecello

Release Day Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

A Heart of Blood and Ashes (A Gathering of Dragons Book 1) by Milla Vane
Dark adult high fantasy romance released by Berkley on February 4, 2020

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane book coverA generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil—until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…

I am extremely all over the place about this review. First of all, let me say that I enjoyed reading A Heart of Blood and Ashes very much. I could not put the book down. I read until 5 AM and was like “ok I need to get some sleep…” And anyway I finished reading it in less than a day. Upon finishing it I immediately went to check when the next book was out – and was like “!!!” If you like high fantasy romances, I think you’ll very much enjoy this book. I do want to say though – I think people have labeled it “dark” and … it definitely fits that, for the heroine. It is a cruel harsh world, and the “civilized” societies don’t mean people act better. At all. (Although for this book the setting is mostly traveling across plains – there’s a lot of action.) I’m happy to answer any questions you might have, and I think a good starting place would be the content warnings on Milla Vane’s page.
 
As stated, this is a dark adult high fantasy romance which means there are situations and circumstances that will disturb some readers. The world itself, the mythology contains violence – it isn’t described but it’s matter of fact there. The hero and most of the other main characters are barbarians. Here it just means their social [niceties] differ from ours. The heroine has suffered deeply as well. It’s a very harsh, matter of fact world that is trying to recover being decimated by “the destroyer” – with the threat of his return. I think part of it was separating my social expectations and adjusting to how that world operates. There are still universal things that are not okay, of course – but what Maddek and Yvenne find acceptable and normal differ from what we generally would.

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What I (Limecello) Read the Second Half of 2019

Hi friends! As you may know, here at ALBTALBS we try to provide comprehensive lists of what we’ve read during the year. (Some of us split  the year in half, some of us do it in one go.)

ICYMI there was a lot of health stuff for me this year, and my brain is pretty broken, so if things don’t make sense I apologize.

As you may have figured, I’m a major mood and comfort [re]reader. I tried to denote re-reads within the [same month] with an asterisk after the author name. (That’s what that means, I think.) If there’s an asterisk before the title, that means it’s a general re-read. [I know, even “tricked” myself with this damn system/had forgotten about it, because I couldn’t figure out why my numbers were off. Anyway, without further ado … my 2019 Part II list! (The list might be slightly off, because my computer is ancient and wants to die – if I leave it unplugged overnight it goes from 100% charge to 0%. And my internet connection isn’t great either. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ We’re struggling over here, kay?) The vast majority of the books I read are from the library. And if you’re familiar with KU, you can probably tell the periods where I took advantage of a promotional [membership] :P. Continue reading

What I (Limecello) Read the First Half of 2019

Indicative of how things are going, for the year I first typed 2018, and then 2010 and … yeah. If you haven’t noticed we’ve mostly been on hiatus here at ALBTALBS, with only rockstar Babs being on point and writing all the reviews and such as expected. The Heritage Months … I so hate giving up but might be a bust. I joked about next year for APAHM and then Pride (being my birthday month) my “gift to myself” would be… totally taking both months off… BUT ANYWAY. You’re not here to listen to me whine. You’re here to see what I’ve been reading. And it didn’t seem like a lot but … I guess it has been! So whee! There have also been some gems in there that I really hope you’ll pick up!

The asterisk before means I’ve read the book in the past and re-read it this year. Or that I read it this year, and then have re-read it again since the first read. The asterisk after the author name means the book was new to me, but since reading it in 2019 I’ve re-read it. Close to one of those “I got to ‘the end’ and flipped the book around and started from page 1 and read it through all over again.” … Because yes some people do do that! … 😛 Generally not me but I’ve done something close! 😀 Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS Reads: Limecello’s 2018 Part 2.0

Hi friends! So, I always like listing what all of the review crew read for the year. Anyone is welcome to participate, to be honest, so if you’d ever like to be a guest and share your reading list you’re more than welcome! (In fact, please do!) Just contact me and we’ll set something up!

Anyway, this is the list of all the books I read from July through December of 2018. If you want to see my thoughts on them you’ll have to check my GR. I also didn’t list all my DNF books because … well that seems unnecessary here. If you have any questions about these books, please let me know! Commentary is of course welcome too! I’d love to know if you read any of these books and what you thought!

To be honest I’m also a huge “mood” reader so … it’s very possible I’d feel quite differently about any of these books if I read them today. >.> Or on a good day. Each title also takes you to the Amazon page … if you want to throw a few pennies our way. 😇 Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: The Date Dare by Tara Sue Me

The Date Dare by Tara Sue Me
Contemporary romance released by After Six Publishing Co on November 19, 2018

The Date Dare by Tara Sue MeWho knew three words held such destructive power? No, not THOSE three words. I’m talking about the evil word trio that’s my own personal kryptonite, that stole my best friend, and took away the only woman I’ve ever loved:
I dare you.

I was six when Darcy Patrick moved next door.
By the time we were eight, we were best friends.

At fifteen, I gave a classmate a black eye for calling her names.
At sixteen, she talked me through asking my crush to prom.

I helped her get over her first heartbreak at nineteen.
Two years later, she returned the favor.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-nine I realized I loved her.
And because I was too stupid to do anything about it,
at thirty, I lost her for good on a dare.

Darcy Patrick is tried of watching her best friend, Elliott Taber, date the wrong kind of woman. When his latest flavor of the month walks out on him, she dares him to let her find his next date. Elliott agrees, but only after Darcy agrees to allow him to do the same.

The dare is on.

The dates take place on the same night. One is an epic fail. The other is just plain epic.

Elliott isn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions hitting him as Darcy seemingly finds everything she ever wanted with the man he set her up with. He should be happy for her. He should leave her alone.

But he can’t.

So he makes one more dare….

This month’s TBR Challenge prompt was a short read. I tried a few category romances (the less said there the better)… then this book became available at the library, and win! I’d had it on hold because I thought the premise looked cute. In fact the blurb gives more history/detail about Elliott and Darcy’s childhood friendship than the book, almost, but … you get the gist of it. I love friends to lovers stories, and it was nice to read two characters that are so utterly comfortable not only with each other, but themselves as well. I can’t remember if I’ve read a book by Tara Sue Me before … so this one was a great start. Continue reading

Also Belated Team TBR Challenge Review: Muffin Top by Avery Flynn

Muffin Top by Avery Flynn
Contemporary romance released by Entangled on October 29, 2018

Muffin Top by Avery Flynn Book CoverThe only thing about me that’s a size zero is the filter on my mouth. I’ve got a big personality, a big rack, and a big number on the scale. And I’m perfectly fine with that.

But when some random guy suggests I might not be eating alone if I’d ordered a salad instead of a hamburger I’m shocked silent, which is a feat, trust me.

That brings us to one sexy fireman named Frankie Hartigan. He’s hot. He’s funny… And he’s just apologized for being late for our “date” then glared at the fat-shaming jerk. Next thing I know, he’s sitting down and ordering himself dinner.

I have no problem telling him I don’t need a pity date…unless of course it’s to my high school reunion next week. Oops where did that last bit come from? And what do I do now that he’s said yes?!

Because this is no make-over story, and I think Frankie is using me for something. I just have to figure out what…

I actually read this book a few weeks ago, so bear with me if I mess things up. However, it’s stayed with me, and this book is the reason why I read a number of Avery Flynn’s other backlist titles. These Hartigans though – there’s something about them. However [November’s] challenge prompt was “cover love” and! While this isn’t one of those immediately eye catching covers, or eye poppingly (bad) ones … what I love about it is its simplicity, and the fact that there actually is a plus sized woman on the cover. I know we’ve all talked about problems where the models on a book cover are nothing like the characters in the book. And before authors start running in here with “well actually” … yes I also realize authors have varying levels of control in [traditionally] published books. With all that out of the way … I think this is a really great contemporary romance! Onward! Continue reading

TBR Challenge Review: Exorcising Sean’s Ghost by Beth Kery

Exorcising Sean’s Ghost by Beth Kery
Contemporary erotic romance re-edited and re-released on July 16, 2017 by Beth Kery

Exorcising Sean's Ghost by Beth KeryFrom the New York Times Bestseller Beth Kery comes this sizzling contemporary romance suspense, now re-edited and re-released after former publication by a previous publisher . . .

Belle is forced to mourn in secret after her lover, U.S. Attorney Sean Ryan, is murdered in a terrorist plot. When she has an irrational, intense sexual response to the mysterious stranger Jack Caldwell, Belle wonders if it’s due to delayed grief for Sean. Sean was the only man she’d ever responded to so completely, after all.

When she finds herself submitting wholly to Jack’s dominant, demanding manner in bed Belle begins to live on the sharp edge of doubt and uncertainty, even to the point of questioning her own sanity. Because Belle can’t let go of the crazy, impossible idea that Sean Ryan and Jack Caldwell are one and the same man.

So I never read the original – apparently it was published in 2007 … and I’m kind of happy about that, because everything – the edits etc, were new to me. I love Beth Kery’s writing. I think she’s one of the best authors of erotic romance out there. Even if (and when – because usually it does happen) the characters do something way out there to/for me … it’s still sexy because it works for them. The hero and heroine are always so in tune, and Ms. Kery’s writing has such depth and layers to it. It’s not just the sex – it’s the emotion, the cerebral connection – the full package. The “prompt” of the month’s TBR challenge is PNR or RS … and I’d say this is … peripheral RS? I kept thinking “this is the aftermath – the ‘everything else’ that happens around and after a RS.” It’s the thinking part of it, which makes sense because Ms. Kery (also) has a background in psychology. It’s suspense in and of the mind, not so much in action – as there is a lot of that … but it takes place “off page, off screen.” Can we call this an erotic low key psychological thriller? Because that’s what I’m doing. Continue reading

My [Limecello’s] 2018 Reads Part 1

Hi friends! I think it’s pretty clear we’re uh … >.> pretty chill here at ALBTALBS (A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet). Also that blogging has become largely dictated by various aspects of my health. I’m a bit mixed because I feel like I should apologize, but also that I absolutely should not because you know. Medical issues. A) It’s absolutely not something I can control, and obviously if I could I wouldn’t be in the boat I am now. Which speaking of boats, perhaps someone should send one because holy cow all the rain of late.

ANYWAY. That’s the vague update on the “state of things” currently. Now let’s get to the fun stuff which is … books I’ve read from January-June 2018. I’ve already posted Aidee and Babs‘ lists, which you should definitely check out. They had some overlap.

I haven’t been reading as much this year – but it’s been picking up some, and I always hope to read more.  So here we go! This list also isn’t set in stone – it’s what I have documented which may be hit or miss. Continue reading

Duology Review: Reign of Shadows & Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan

Reign of Shadows & Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan
Young adult high fantasy romance released by HarperCollins on February 9, 2016 and February 7, 2017

Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan Book CoverDestiny and darkness collide in this romantic, sweeping new fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan.

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

And

Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan Book CoverLuna and Fowler have escaped the kingdom of Relhok, but they haven’t escaped the darkness. When a battle against the dark dwellers mortally injures Fowler, Luna is faced with a choice: put their fate in the hands of mysterious strangers or risk losing Fowler forever.

Desperate to keep the one bright part of her life alive, Luna accepts the help of soldiers from a nearby kingdom. Lagonia’s castle offers reprieve from the dangerous outside world—until the King discovers both Fowler and Luna’s true ties to Relhok and their influence over the throne.

Now pawns in each kingdom’s political game, Luna and Fowler are more determined than ever to escape and build the life they’ve been dreaming of. But their own pasts have a tight hold on their hearts and their destinies. Luna must embrace the darkness and fire within her before she loses not only Fowler but the power she was destined to inherit.

The world is a fucking garbage fire, and it’s only gotten worse … which is why I’ve mostly been reading adult high fantasy romances. In fact it’s something I started more than a year ago, and the situation has only gotten more dire (in every sense). There is a lot more YA high fantasy romance than adult, and I think that’s a shame. In my opinion adult high fantasy romance is a huge untapped market I wish more authors would jump into. Anyway – I’ll read YA high fantasy romance when the characters are close to adult or act as if they are adults in their world. I’d say a 17 year old and a 19 year old traveling across a continent alone facing incredible danger counts. (Especially when they’re considered marriageable age and many others in that world their age already have children, etc.) I also figured, knowing Sophie Jordan wrote (writes?) romance, there would be something in there for me. And I was right.

I have a tendency to glom fantasy romance series – even more than other romance subgenres, so as soon as I finish one book I jump into the second, and oftentimes forgot where one ends and the other starts. (Which I don’t consider a real problem since so many are series …) I read both books in one day. I found the world building really interesting, and actually hope there will be some sort of novella, or vignette offering a follow up because I so want to know what else happens.
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Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Ocean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity Book 2) by Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance released by Berkley on June 12, 2018

Ocean Light by Nalini SinghNew York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love…

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment–taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling…

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine…

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back–even if it means striking a devil’s bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy…

I always know I want to read Nalini Singh’s books, but when I learned Ocean Light was Bowen Knight’s book … I kicked it into high gear to get my greedy little hands on a copy. I have no shame in telling you I shed a few tears when I thought we lost Bowen (in a previous book). Then also there’s the fact that Nalini Singh’s writing is so beautiful. It’s emotional, warm, evocative, the flow and cadence … it’s like a hug from an old friend. You feel comforted and cared for and know you’re in for a good time. I’ve been reading the Psy-Changeling series from the start, I’m on board for this spin off “trinity” series, and I will read every vignette. … Especially if it has Kaleb, Hawke, or Bowen. Ideally, all three. (Can we please make this happen?!?!) Continue reading