The Traitor by Abigail Owen

This is the story we’ve all been waiting for! We finally get to explore Rune Abaddon up close and personal, and lemme tell ya, you won’t be disappointed!

What’s it About?

Decades ago, rogue dragon shifter Rune Abaddon took a stand against the decaying, corrupt systems governing their people. He now uses his bad-ass reputation to protect the innocent as it all comes crashing down. But he’s pushed the limits one too many times. His hideout is destroyed, his few allies are scattered and hiding, and the Alliance has placed a dead-or-alive bounty on his head, making him the most wanted dragon in the western hemisphere.

And then the most enticing woman he’s ever met barges into his mountain, demanding an audience.

Hadyn Reece’s future was ripped away long ago. The man fated to be her mate was murdered alongside her parents before Hadyn was old enough to be turned, leaving her to be raised and trained by her dead mate’s parents in the dragon shifter world. Now, the Alliance has come for the only family she has left. It’s a good thing she was raised by dragons, because the only one who can help her save them is a traitor she’d be smart to fear.

Especially when his dragon decides she’s theirs.

First Impressions

I’m in no way exaggerating when I say I have been waiting for Rune’s story with bated breath ever since we were first introduced to his character in book one of this dragon series. After five books in this Fire’s Edge series, and three books in the equally stellar Inferno Rising companion series, the wait is finally over. I’ll never forget seeing when Rune was officially announced on my Twitter feed as the protagonist of this sixth book, and literally squealing in delight upon the reveal, followed closely by a little shimmy dance of delight. This rogue dragon has lingered in the backdrop throughout most of the series, but has slowly been emerging from the background as a key player in this war of dragons. He was initially presented to us as a traitor to his fellow Huracan team of dragon enforcers, an enemy of the high king, stealing female dragon mates from their potential partners. However, as the series progressed it was revealed that this supposed traitor wasn’t stealing mates, he was saving them.

Saving them from certain death at the hands of greedy rulers who cared more about taking mates for themselves rather than finding their true mates. I mean, can you think of a more delicious hero than a rough and gruff dragon with a hidden soft spot, willing to risk having himself labeled as a traitor in order to do what is right? Pardon me whilst I swoon! If I had one mild critique of this part of the story, it’s that I wish we had dug just a bit deeper to hear more from Rune directly what that moment was like years before when he realized that in order to save these helpless women he would need to take measures that would result in his dragon brothers looking upon him with disdain rather than trust. We do get a few moments where Hadyn acknowledges she can’t imagine how devastating that must have been for Rune, or we get a brief glimpse of sadness from this strong man, but it still felt like we only scratched the surface of where we could have gone.

The Rules are Changing

The thing I love most about this series is that it still has the ability to surprise, shock and awe. Each book does have the tendency to follow a standard trajectory of a surly dragon who meets a woman that kicks off his protective alpha tendencies, followed by some sexy fun times, and concluding with an epic battle between our protagonists and enemy dragon forces. However, there are always a multitude of twists and turns mixed in which manage to throw everything you thought you knew about this amazing world completely out the window. This tracks with the progression of the series as a whole, as our characters are starting to realize that the rules of their species and existence are in a state of change.

What once had clearly designated lines of black and white have now blurred into varying shades of gray that will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what unexpected development might occur next. This series also has the uncanny ability to tug at the heartstrings, and while most of the books have brought tears to my eyes at some point in the plot, this particular read had the distinction of making me reach for the tissues twice! What can I say? The emotional connection that this author manages to create between our featured couples always latches on hard to your heart, and when something tries to tear them apart we can’t help but feel that heartache ourselves. It is far and above more impactful than the delectable physical connection we also see established between our leads.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Fire’s Edge, book 6. Gimme more…gimme everything.

Final Impressions: I wanted it, it was given, it met and even exceeded my expectations. Rune and Hadyn are definitely a standout couple of the series, as both weren’t afraid to lay all their cards out on the table in front of the other. Whether it was admitting how frustrated the other person made them, how much they craved each other, or ultimately how completely devoted they were to each other. Hadyn especially was one of my favorite heroines of the series so far, as she never cowered in the intimidating presence of her surly dragon shifter, and wasn’t afraid to push him to help her when it mattered most. Putting the romantic part of the storyline to the side, the climactic battle scene at the end was so fast-paced and action-packed that I had to force myself to stop trying to skim ahead to the bottom of the page to see what would happen. Always a good sign of a great suspenseful moment in my opinion!

Smut Level: There is a scene on a boat…quickly followed by a scene in the back of a demon’s taxi cab that will leave you looking for a spray bottle of water to cool yourself off.

Get it on Amazon: Click here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara.

Hunting Season by Kate Rudolph

As if being a doctor didn’t present its own challenges, Stasia also has to deal with almost being kidnapped for not the first time in her life, as well as discovering her sexy bodyguard is a werewolf. And I thought I was having a stressful week.

What’s it About?

This werewolf will protect his mate.

Owen has one job: keep Stasia from being abducted. Easier said than done when his fiercely independent client tries to fire him the moment they meet. His werewolf senses howl to life and he’s certain of one thing: Stasia is his.

She’s sick of cocky men.

When her wealthy father hires a bodyguard, Stasia says no. Not exactly a smart move after someone tried to nab her off the street. But she doesn’t need a babysitter. Especially not a cheerfully overbearing bodyguard who makes her heart pound and her fantasies run wild.

When Stasia is yanked out of her glittering world and into Owen’s she’ll need to grapple with an impossible new reality that includes werewolves, silver bullets, and fated mates.

Is she ready to embrace her new world? Or will she run back to a universe of glittering high rises and leave her destiny behind?

First Impressions

A rather distinctive feature of this fantasy romance is that while our hero Owen and his fellow bodyguard teammates are werewolves, they were only recently changed into these lycan beasts through some mysterious ceremony. They weren’t werewolves by birth, or by being bitten. Not only that, but after the conclusion of the ceremony, their captors disappeared, leaving them no information as to the expectations or rules of this world they’ve now been brought into. It’s not like they can easily pick up a handbook in the local library to learn what their new lives will entail that might be different than myth or pop culture might lead them to believe. Everything was a question mark for them to discover on their own as time passed rather than having it all clearly outlined for them, which definitely made this werewolf story different than any other I’ve come across recently. I did have a good giggle at one point though when Owen was commiserating the fact there wasn’t much source material out there for them to reference beyond Teen Wolf, and I thought, “Oh sweetie, have a walk down the romance novel section of any bookstore and you’ll have plenty of options to consider.”

Right, Werewolves!

Even though I enjoyed the fact our lycan characters were still learning what it meant to be a werewolf, unfortunately I don’t think this storyline was incorporated as fully into the overall plot as it could have been. I actually found myself continually having to remind myself throughout the first half of the book that this wasn’t just a standard bodyguard/client romance. Other than Owen feeling uber possessive towards Stasia in a way that has him wanting to refer to her as his “mate”, there really weren’t many paranormal elements built into a good portion of the story. Once the werewolf storyline does eventually present itself front and center, sadly this is when my disappointment with the book came full throttle.

Upon discovering that the man she’s been sleeping with is a werewolf, and one of his teammates has bitten her, but none of them know if she’ll be fine, die, or turn into a werewolf herself, Stasia seems…perfectly fine with these revelations and subsequent uncertainties. No real moments of panic at any point. I don’t know if this was supposed to reflect the strength of her character, or that her trust in Owen surpasses any possible concern, but even for a werewolf romance it felt somewhat unbelievable that she would have so little reaction upon this discovery. Especially when we consider she’s known Owen for about a week. I almost wish this was a world in which everyone knew about the existence of werewolves, and she just had to deal with the realization that her new bodyguard was one of them. It would have made her apparent lack of shock more plausible. The only real freak-out she has in the book is when someone suggests she and Owen might marry soon. Werewolves and mates she could deal with, but not with the concept of being a bride? Mkayyy?

Series: Guarded by the Shifter, book 1. I’m debating on whether or not to continue with this one.

Final Impressions: The vast majority of this book is build-up, with very little progression or resolution to Owen’s werewolf storyline. Even when it comes to Stasia’s multiple kidnapping attempts throughout the book, one of which was quite violent, we never really learn who was behind it or why, just that it had something to do with her father’s business dealings. The most frustrating aspect though was the lack of forward momentum in the werewolf origin story. When Owen recognizes very early on that one of the members of Stasia’s security team was present at the ceremony that turned him and his teammates into werewolves, he sits on this info without telling them until almost the last scene of the book. We don’t even get one scene involving Owen confronting or speaking to this man. It was such a disappointment that the story never really progresses towards any kind of tangible revelation, and instead we’re left with the impression more will be revealed in future novels.

Smut Level: Owen might view Stasia as his, but she’s not afraid to stand up and claim him as her own. While the steamy scenes were quite detailed and enjoyable, I do think after a while there was too much focus on them rather than moving the plot forward where it really required attention.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Celestial Heart Press. 274 Pages.

Gray’s Promise by Anni Fife

Zoey and Gray have tried to put their tragic past behind them, but they both realize that their only hope for moving on is to confront their past together.

What’s it About?

Zoey Morgan seems to have it all as a successful surgeon in Boston. However, perfection lies only on the surface. Plagued by nightmares and amnesia from a tragedy that ripped her family from her fourteen years ago, she finds the courage to reach out to the only man who can make her feel safe. She’s buried the memory of their love, but her heart—and her body—responds to the ex-marine in ways that are all too familiar.

Grayson “Gray” Walker’s heart shattered when Zoey chose another man over him. Since then, he’s built an impenetrable wall around his emotions. But from the moment she implodes back into his life, her vulnerability breaches his defenses. His skills as an elite member of the King Security team cannot shield him from the devastation of learning he might have left Zoey high and dry when she needed him most. Now, Gray must navigate the tripwire of helping her heal while protecting himself from being hurt again. As the embers of their potent love reignite, an old threat awakens, leading to greater danger than ever before.

First Impressions

I made the somewhat regrettable decision to start this book about 30 minutes before my designated bedtime, and I really need to get in the habit of avoiding this tactic unless I know with absolute certainty that I have a light-hearted comedy at hand. While I knew this was going to be more of a suspenseful read, I wasn’t prepared for our book to open on a hospital scene in the aftermath of Gray discovering the love of his life has been raped, her family brutally murdered, and if that wasn’t cruel enough, she’s wearing an engagement ring given to her by his brother. If that’s not a gut-wrenching way to start a book right before you go to sleep, then I don’t know what is!

Moving on From Tragedy

I must say, I did find it a little hard to believe that Gray would have left Zoey behind after facing such an epic tragedy, especially seeing as her mind wouldn’t allow her to remember the details of that tragic evening when everything changed. Even if she was suddenly and unexpectedly engaged to his brother, their love was so strong simply a day before that to pick up and leave seemed rather odd. However, if anything it demonstrated that in the immediate aftermath of inexplicable horror, sometimes we’re not always thinking clearly. After a few years, Gray does make the attempt on repeated occasions to try and connect with Zoey once again, but her inability to confront what really happened that night to her and her family means that she ultimately pushes him away until he refuses to try anymore.

It was fascinating to see that both of these characters mistakenly assumed that by turning their back on the past would they then be able to move forward into the future. However, one day Zoey comes to the realization that only by forcing herself to try and remember who attacked her family would she be able to bring justice to their memory, and truly be able to move on. She just needs the presence of one man by her side to do this, the one man who always made her feel safe, the one man who seemingly no longer wants anything to do with her. The wounds she encountered that night weren’t just physical, but rather they also had a deep-rooted mental impact. After so many years removed from their family homes, it’s only by looking back at everything with a fresh perspective that Zoey and Gray are able to realize that what they were both led to believe about that night only raises more questions than answers.

A Somewhat Expected Conclusion

For about the first two chapters of this book I had one primary suspect in my mind as the perpetrator of the heinous crimes committed against Zoey and her family. After some slight tweaking, I had a new theory that I held throughout the remainder of the book, and lo and behold it ended up being right. While it provided for some interesting dynamics between various characters, I also couldn’t help but feel that it was almost a bit too obvious of a realization. It might make sense that some characters were too close to the action for them to be able to acknowledge the truth, but surely it would have been obvious to the local police or other investigators throughout the years? Although the “who dunnit” aspect of the mystery was fairly obvious, it didn’t lessen the intensity level as we see Zoey and Gray slowly start to put together the pieces of the puzzle. This ultimately led to an exciting climactic conclusion that brings everything back full circle to the tragic scene upon which our novel opened.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: A King Security Novel, book 2. I really do love the members of this security team.

Final Impressions: It was interesting to see Zoey and Gray learn how to trust each other again before they could take the next step of confronting their past together. Nevertheless, because the mystery had a somewhat obvious conclusion, it almost made the journey to get there feel a bit tediously drawn out. The many years of distance from the events of that evening helped create this delicious tension between Gray and Zoey that they were forced to address, but I almost wonder if it would have made more sense if the novel had taken place just a few months, or at most a few years afterwards. As it stood, it was kind of hard to believe the perpetrator could have gotten away with it for as long as they did, especially considering the only thing attributing to their freedom this whole time was the fact Zoey’s mind wouldn’t let her remember the events of that night.

Smut Level: Hot daaaaaamn! Even though Zoey and Gray don’t have intercourse until almost the very last scene of the novel, that doesn’t mean they don’t explore all manner of delicious dirty deeds before then. And these scenes are not only detailed, but lengthy, so you have plenty of time to enjoy them in their entirey.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 408 Pages.

Garridan’s Mate by Rebecca Hefner

These two bad-ass Vampyre soldiers are committed to doing whatever is necessary to save their fellow countrymen, and each other, from the forces of evil.

What’s it About? 

Lose yourself in the magic…

General Garridan has lived for centuries without a bonded mate. Born an aristocrat, he chose to forgo his family’s wealth and privilege to fight in the Vampyre immortal army. After the centuries-long War of the Species ended, a new foe emerged, reaffirming his vow to protect his people. Although his father wants him to bond with an aristocrat and settle down, Garridan only has eyes for one woman.

Siora is a natural warrior. When the immortal army finally allows women to join, she pledges to become the first battalion leader as conflict consumes the realm. Once they defeat Bakari, she can settle into a security role at Lynia and help her father at his farm. Dreams of the amber-eyed Vampyre who relentlessly pushes her during training have no place in her world, even if the general is the only man who’s ever made her long for a bonded mate.

Consumed by her skill and effort, along with her inherent natural beauty, Garridan offers to help Siora secure a leadership position as they near the final battle. Although she swears they have no future, Garridan finds himself longing to claim the stubborn woman as his mate, no matter the cost. Can two warriors from different paths find love amid their blazing desire, or will fear douse their spark before it’s barely begun to burn?

First Impressions

We were initially introduced to Siora in the sixth novel of the Etherya’s Earth series “The Cryptic Prophecy”. I distinctly remember the first scene where she was introduced to interact with one of our main characters in that book and immediately thinking, “Mkay, so she’s definitely gonna need her own book one day.” Lo and behold, wish for something with every fiber of your being, and you shall receive.

While Siora and Garridan don’t get their own full-length novel, we get this perfect intermediary novella which essentially takes place in the last few weeks leading up to the epic battle which took place at the end of book six, and concludes with us in the same timeframe as when that book also ended. This novella was truly the perfect vehicle to tell the story of these two soldiers. It makes sense with their combat training that their love would blossom in the close quarters leading up to the final battle. Had there been an attempt to squeeze their story into book six in between the scenes of Callie and Brecken’s romance, I don’t think it would have received the attention it deserved. Therefore, this novella provides us with the perfect opportunity to see their story as a stand-alone rather than an afterthought, while still fitting into the overall general timeline of the series. Smart move by the author for sure!

An Activity Better than Sex?

Do you know how I realized this book was going to be amazing within just the first few pages? Easy. Battalion commander + soldier = sparring. Lots…and lots…of sparring. And lemme tell ya, that is Siora and Garridan’s physical activity of choice throughout the vast majority of this read, which of course inevitably leads to a more sultry pastime. When Garridan first offered to train with Siora for a few hours in the evenings I immediately said to myself, “If these two don’t end up with Siora flat on her back and Garridan splayed out over her thighs with her hands held down by both of his at some point, you can revoke my romance novel fan-card right now.” Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long at all for this blessed scenario to occur. The true benefits of a novella: you don’t have to wait around before you get to the good stuff. And believe me when I tell you there was plenty of delicious stuff to enjoy in this one.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 6.5. Part of the Hearts Unleashed Anthology. While I didn’t read the rest of the anthology in which this novella appeared, I can tell you that Etherya’s Earth is definitely one of my favorite series ever.

Final Impressions: Sometimes I don’t always understand half-books in between full-length novels of a series, but in this instance it really worked. We get just a small glimpse of the suspense of battle at the very end of this short read, but for the most part this novella provides us with a welcome breather in between some of the more intense action happening in the series as a whole. We primarily get to indulge in the passionate scenes of Siora and Garridan learning how perfect they are for each other. I also appreciated that Garridan never pushed Siora into admitting they were destined mates before she was ready. When she expressed hesitancy over a future with Garridan, he had the wherewithal to give her the space she needed to realize on her own that they were meant for each other. Absolute perfection!

Smut Level: So…much…sparring!! The fact Garridan had the strength to literally tear the sports bra from Siora’s chest on more than one occasion was a pure delight. We’ve all come across scenes of panty ripping, but sports bra ripping is a special category all on its own.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Naughty Nights Press, LLC. 

Delicate Ink by Carrie Ann Ryan

A rugged, alpha-male tattoo artist sets his sights on the demure boutique owner across the street. Sounds like a classic Romancelandia premise to me!

What’s it About?

One look at the woman who comes in for new ink and Austin Montgomery knows she’s the one for him. The problem: she can’t stand him. Now he’ll have to be his most charming and brooding if he has any chance of changing her mind…and claiming her heart.

Sierra Elder has reasons for keeping away and secrets close to her heart. An accident took her first love and scarred more than her soul in the process. Now the inked man with a wicked grin is starting to melt the ice she’s built to keep her safe, but the danger isn’t only from what she feels.

Some secrets were never meant to be kept and when mistakes from both of their pasts come knocking, they’ll have to trust each other, even if it could hurt them both in the process.

First Impressions

I think every avid romance novel reader does a little internal twirl of delight whenever we discover the male lead comes from an extensively large family network. And when family members gather together for regularly scheduled family dinners or BBQs? Forget about it, we’re doing a full on happy dance!! After all, that can only mean one thing: sequelssssss. That was definitely true when it came to this first novel in the Montgomery Ink series and we discover that Austin Montgomery comes from a family with multiple siblings, cousins and even “strays” that his family has picked up throughout the years.

There was only one major negative with having so many members of the Montgomery clan, and that was the feeling that we were introduced to too many of them at once in this first novel. While large family romances will often give us a tease to the focus of the next novel, it felt like we got a glimpse to something like five different future story-lines, and even multiple chapters involving the couple from the prequel to this book. We’re only in the first novel and I already feel like I’ve got all my Montgomery members mixed up! The fact we will ultimately get offshoot Montgomery Ink series set in Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins makes me hope we’ll see some extensive family trees going forward so we can clearly remember who is who.

Flogged with Surprise

It’s no surprise to my readers that I’m not typically a huge fan of BDSM-focused reads. I actually didn’t realize when adding this book to my TBR pile that it had a D/S component, so I had a mini moment of “oh boy, here we go” when gathering together my read-ahead notes for this one. However, while I might not personally understand the appeal of flogging, I did appreciate how this novel presented us with the foundations of a healthy BDSM relationship built upon honesty and respect. Austin had his “sub-dar” activated upon first meeting Sierra and realizing she might be the submissive that his dominant side was craving.

When it became clear Sierra not only understood the fundamentals of BDSM, but also that her previous relationship had been steeped in it, the two were ready to start setting their boundaries. They were very clear in establishing limits, safe words, getting new and clean equipment for their scenes, and Austin clearly outlined that Sierra was safe with him. No skin would be broken by his flogging. They were very good about keeping their D/S dynamic reserved to the bedroom rather than having it take over every aspect of their interactions with each other. It was also refreshing to see that Austin and Sierra didn’t need BDSM play every time they had sex. Sometimes they craved the kink, while other times they craved something more traditional. All in all it was a BDSM relationship I could get behind whole-heartedly.

Series: Montgomery Ink, book 1. It seems kink and BDSM is a hobby that runs rampant throughout this family. If I can manage to keep all these characters straight I think I’ll give a few more a try.

Final Impressions: Overall this was a quick and entertaining read, though at times it seemed there were a few too many components going on. This felt especially true when we started to see the groundwork being laid for the love stories of other Montgomery family members. I couldn’t help but wonder, can we at least get through this first couple’s tale before weaving in details of all the others? This also resulted in some of the key dramatic aspects of Austin and Sierra’s story being pushed to the very end, producing a conclusion that felt a bit rushed.

Smut Level: Austin wants to feast on Sierra every chance he gets, and she’s more than willing to be his appetizer, main course, cheese plate and dessert all night long.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE. Self-Published. 370 Pages.

Hunter by Eden Summers

Sarah is determined to bring justice to those that the law can’t, or won’t touch. But when the chance arrives to seek vengeance on the man who murdered her family, she realizes she might not be able to do it alone.

What’s it About?

A seductively thrilling game of cat and mouse destined to leave you breathless.

I’ve been running for ten years – fleeing my past and clawing my way toward an inescapable act of vengeance.

Until he walks into my life, sure and strong and full of secrets.

He dilutes my thirst for retribution with his touch. He obliterates my need for solitude with his kiss. But it’s his hidden agenda that makes the hair on the back of my neck prickle.

He wants something. Something that doesn’t revolve around sweaty skin and tangled silk sheets like he’d have me believe.

I have to stop falling for him, otherwise the last ten years will all be for nothing. I need to keep running, keep fighting for vengeance, even though I know he will track me down.

But trying to escape him is just another problem. Because now I crave the hunt.

First Impressions

The premise and opening sequence of this novel had everything going for it. After all, how many times do we wish the slimeballs of the world could finally pay for their crimes? The fact it was a solitary woman ensuring that nobody could escape the long arm of justice, and that someone was always looking out for those less fortunate made it all the more satisfying. It was almost reminiscent in a way of Promising Young Woman, where we encounter an independently strong and feisty female lead who isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right following a tragic event in her own past. Her dalliance with the mysterious and alpha Hunter upon first meeting at a local bar was all the more delicious. After this opening sequence though, things started to get a bit more muddled.

Can Someone Tell Me…What’s Happening?

So here is what I do know when it comes to Emma/Steph/Sarah’s back story which led her to the vigilante path she’s now on today. Her entire family was killed about 10 years ago at the hands of an ex-boyfriend who she’s been trying to locate ever since, and she’s only now starting to get hot on his trail. As to why exactly her family was the subject of such horror, how this man got away with it, and how he’s succeeded in disappearing all this time? Hell if I know. It’s kind of surprising when we consider that this was the impetus for Sarah’s life trajectory up until this point in the novel, how little actual clarifying information we receive regarding the event itself. I kept thinking we were being intentionally left in the dark so that we might ultimately get some kind of passionate reveal between our two main characters, but alas that never happened.

This wasn’t the only back-story that was painstakingly avoided throughout the entirety of the book. We also get very little to no history on our male lead, Hunter. We know that he is involved with some kind of criminal enterprise as a hit-man, but as to how he got involved in this line of work, as well as his dynamic with our lead villain who might not actually be a villain is also a total mystery. What we do know is that Hunter’s work and Sarah’s search for her family’s killer causes these two to cross paths. Once they get a taste of each other, Sarah feels the need to run away from the unexpected desire this man has awoken within her, whereas Hunter is more than willing to give chase to the woman he doesn’t want to let go.

Series: Hunting Her, book 1. Even though this first book didn’t leave me fully satisfied, I’m not at the point of giving up entirely seeing as book 2 focuses on a secondary character who brought plenty of personality to this read.

Final Impressions: Overall I think this book left me with more questions than answers. It certainly had good bones, but needed to be more fully fleshed out so that we could clearly understand the forces bringing all of our characters together.

Smut Level: A large part of this book is a game of cat-and-mouse with Hunter in pursuit of Sarah in her attempt to get him off her trail. The few moments where they do come together though are positively sinful.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 268 Pages.

Chroma Crossing Chronicles: Blood Moon: Part 2 by S. Yurvati

A stranger from another world brings a bit of color to this monochromatic world.

What’s it About?

Candy endeavors to understand the monochromatic ‘beige-world’ she landed in, while trying not to drool over the deliciously tempting pheromone-laden hunter who found her—neither being an easy task. The color deficient land/realm/whatever presents environs she finds mysterious to comprehend and leaves a plethora of questions unanswered. Such as gods and goddesses, and what dangers she will face with the ‘needing moon’?

When an accident scrambles Candy’s blonde-brain, it makes life even more puzzling than that distracting ‘Pheromone-Man’. Next thing Candy knows, she’s told she must embark on a journey, via horseback, with a group of muscular warriors. Now that scenario shouldn’t sound too awful, except Candy is a city girl and it’s going to be a lengthy outing. One that requires outdoorsy accommodations, such as camping (ick), and other unsavory things—likely creepy-crawly things!

During the convoluted journey there are times she’s forced to face daunting terrors, and at those times Thorne intervenes with strength (sigh worthy muscles) and surprising gentleness. But the next minute . . . he ignores her as if she’s ‘Typhoid-Candy’!

Thorne, the epitome of an alpha-male, harbors a past filled with pain and feelings of guilt that haunt him—as does the unique, troublesome, and beautiful, green-eyed female he found while hunting. Just when he thinks to have found a woman he could love, an accident robs her of all memory of him. At the same time, Thorne can no longer ignore the growing violence between two villages, and then there are those maundering murdering renegades . . . Now Thorne faces a new dilemma—what to do with Candy during his absence, fearing to leave her behind.

Except, can this delicate, clumsy, foreign, female endure a long grueling journey through the wilds? More essential, will she ever remember what they shared?

Ripple is a brutally honest dwarf and Thorne’s truest friend. As he tires of the games between the two would-be-lovers he tries to set them right, and finds the perfect night to do so. However, it’s the Moon Goddess’ domain to govern over men that very night, and Luna has her own agenda. During the telling of the fable of the ‘Blood Moon’, the Moon Goddess’ own sorrowful past is revealed.

First Impressions

While this second book was not without its faults, it was vastly superior to book one in the series. With this sequel we finally see Candy land in and attempt to assimilate into this bizarre world which is only beige in color. Her interactions with King Thorne, or as she likes to refer to him “Pheromone Man”, will practically leave you with a case of heat stroke they’re so steamy. We are also introduced to a slew of new characters, some of whom are a pure delight, whereas others are downright villainous. Considering that most of the characters from book one fell into the latter category, the fact we finally get to see some fun and engaging personalities was definitely a welcome improvement. Even though it was entertaining at times to explore this new world with its intriguing characters, one of whom practically oozes sex appeal, there were a number of misses to the plot which hindered the enjoyability factor.

Ebb and Flow

The primary hindrance to this series so far as a whole has been the flow and pace of the story. These first two books are labeled as Part 1 and 2 of the “Blood Moon”, and this second book also felt as though it was divided into two parts, all of which felt unnecessarily complicated. Essentially the entirety of book 1 took place in the world we know of Savannah, and was meant to be an intro of what Candy’s life and relationships were like before traveling into this fantasy realm. Honestly, it should have been 2-3 chapters max rather than a full-length novel. With this second book, the novel opens on Candy arriving in Thorne’s kingdom on the cusp of the “needing moon”, which is basically a time each month when folks get super randy and all manner of sexual delights ensue. Unsurprisingly, Candy and Thorne come together on this night and engage in some intense and exhausting fornicating that leaves them both physically spent, yet also starting to consider having a possible future with each other. Then things get a bit wonky when Candy suffers a blow to the head and loses all memory of how she came to be in this world, as well as her special night with Thorne. This is what resulted in the the feeling of this book being divided in two: everything pre- and post-accident.

A Journey to Nowhere

Following this loss of memory, Thorne receives word that there is some fighting going on between neighboring villages which he must go and put to rest. Rather than leave Candy in the safety of his castle to recover following her injury, he decides to bring her along on this journey to ensure none of his subjects can make a move on her, or harm her in any way. Mkay, here are my thoughts. This entire novel should have been told in reverse. Rather than starting off with countless hours of them coupling in the bedroom followed by Candy’s accident, the first part of this book should have been a longer journey to Thorne’s kingdom following his discovery of Candy having fallen into his world.

Their trek could have involved the same instances of Candy’s shenanigans struggling to adapt and fit into this bizarre landscape in an attempt to lend moments of comedic relief to the plot. Both characters were clearly frustrated with the other throughout this time, yet neither could ignore the underlying hum of attraction pulling them together. They want to keep their distance, but can’t. This then could have culminated in an arrival at their destination on the needing moon with plenty of sex-filled chapters between them, and ultimately a more logical progression of their relationship. Instead we see them start at the max, then fall to rock-bottom, then there are these moments on the journey where Thorne seems so turned off by who Candy is as a person, followed by him intensely desiring her body. It left me feeling like their primary connection was physical more than anything else, and it was difficult to root for these two as a couple.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Chroma Crossing Chronicles, book 2. I had no idea there were another two books still to come following this sequel, and I think I may have reached my stopping point.

Final Impressions: Throughout the read I kept thinking, boy they’re taking a while to get to the actual plot. Then after the 3/4 point I wondered, wait are we just never going to learn about what is causing this village disruption, what the heck ever happened to Thorne’s psychotic brother, or why his sister wants to have sex with him? Then when the book ended, and I realized there were yet another two books to come I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at the lack of progress we’ve made so far after two full-length books. We aren’t seemingly any closer to getting to the crux of what this world is all about, and I was really hoping this second book would end with the beige world exploding into color following Candy’s choice to be with Thorne. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The plethora of grammatical errors also made this a rather difficult road to traverse.

Smut Level: This book certainly has plenty of steam, though I question if there was too much focus on their time in the bedroom which ultimately resulted in a lack of forward movement to the actual plot.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 361 Pages.

The Warrior King by Abigail Owen

Meira doesn’t believe in fated mates, but even she reaches a point where the intense pull she feels towards Samael can no longer be denied. Trouble is, Meira is already promised to mate another…

What’s it About?

Meira Amon is the most reserved of the phoenixes, finding computers easier to deal with than people and their messy emotions. But she wants revenge against the Rotting King Pytheios for the murder of her parents just as much as her sisters. Offering herself as a queen for their ally, dragon shifter King Gorgon of the Black Clan, only makes sense.

Just one problem…

Samael Veles worked his lowborn ass off to become the fiercest warrior of the Black Clan. He has pledged his life to protect his king at all costs. Yet somehow, in the middle of war, he took one look at a woman in a reflection and gave up his heart. When that woman turns out to be the phoenix promised to mate his king and help bring peace to their kind, he has no choice but to accept it.

Until her fire unexpectedly destroys the king after they’ve wed. Now Samael must choose between his loyalty to his clan and protecting the queen who might be his mate from his people’s wrath, one of which will unlock a destiny no one could have ever imagined…

First Impressions

If there is one thing you can always count on when it comes to an Abigail Owen read, it’s that no two of her books are the same. I’m always surprised by her ability to throw my assumptions about how the story will progress completely off track. We manage to go in directions we never even considered, and meet a whole slew of new characters with whom we can immediately fall in love. One thing I will say is that after three novels in this Inferno Rising series and 4.5 books in the companion Fire’s Edge series, it is getting more challenging with each read to keep the many personalities of dragon kings, phoenixes and shifters in order. Sure, I love each and every one of them, but if I could get a kind of family tree break-down at the start of each book from here on out that would be amazing.

A Connection Which Keeps Them Apart

A poignant feature of Meira and Samael’s relationship is that while they are thrown together just the two of them essentially from page one, they also spend the bulk of the book fighting their feelings for each other. The mere fact that Meira doesn’t believe in fated mates means that she is continuously trying to fight the attraction she feels towards Samael as much as possible. Meira is also promised to mate the king of Samael’s dragon clan, a man who has acted as a pseudo-father figure to Samael over the years. Samael’s inner dragon yearns for Meira whenever they’re in close proximity, a desire which Samael tries to suppress for fear of inciting the anger of his leader and fellow members of this clan. Therefore, even though these two remain spatially close for the majority of the novel, there remains an emotional distance between them which makes it somewhat difficult to connect with them as a unified couple. Seeing as one of Meira’s phoenix powers is to act as an empath, I was hoping that we’d see more scenes of her connecting with Samael on a supernatural plane, but instead we consistently see Meira bemoaning how Samael has shut off his emotions from her. This left me wanting more when compared to some of the previous couples we’ve encountered throughout this gripping series.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Inferno Rising, book 3. I am so unbelievably excited to see anything this author will give me, but especially when it comes to this amazing world of phoenixes and dragon shifters.

Final Impressions: This was another great addition to the Inferno Rising series, and I was shocked that after so many novels I can’t always predict where the plot will take me. It’s hard to discuss in detail the various pathways we travers in this particular read without giving too much away, but let’s just say things get off to a fiery start, and end with an epic battle in the sky that plays out like a move in your head.

Smut Level: We have a scene where Meira and Samael are hiding out in an abandoned cabin following a plunge into an icy lake, and they have to heat things up in front of a fireplace to stay warm. Naked. I think we can all guess where this is goinggggggg.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 305 Pages.

Her Patriotic Prince by Ayla Asher

I can’t remember the last time I was so sad to see the conclusion of a series!

What’s it About? 

It was only supposed to be one night…

Laura Cunningham is gorgeous, witty and tough as nails…and still single in her late thirties. After dating every man in Manhattan, she’s resigned herself to the fact that true love just might not exist for her. Certainly a bummer for the woman who observed her two best friends fall in love with sexy, strong men who are their soulmates. Adam Gardner is a soldier who’s been committed to the cause his entire life. Nearing forty, he realizes that once his next mission is complete, he wants to settle down and build a home and family.

Laura and Adam meet on a romantic summer evening, knowing their time is limited due to Adam’s impending deployment. Taken by their instant chemistry, they commit to spending one passionate and intimate night together.

Years later, Adam returns to find Laura with a daughter who shares his sky-blue eyes. Determined to be a father to the little girl, and still enamored by the woman he could never forget, he strives to discern the best path forward. Laura is shocked by the appearance of the man who stole her heart so many years ago…and who still possesses it. Can the star-crossed lovers build a life together or will their secrets and fears keep them from achieving happiness?

First Impressions

Alright, confession time. I’ve never been a huge fan of secret baby romances. I always find myself getting upset with the female lead for keeping such a massive, literally life-changing secret from either her one-night stand, or maybe an ex with whom she’s had a falling out. Needless to say I was a little hesitant to pick up this third and final read in the Manhattan Holiday Loves series. While I did think that Laura could have done more to locate some contact info for Adam to send him word about the fact that their one night together resulted in a baby, I have to give it to the author for putting up as many legitimate road blocks to make that as difficult an act as possible. From a phone number washed away by a coffee spill, to friends getting in a life-threatening car accident the morning after, to Adam having to report the next morning for a multi-year international secret ops mission where he wouldn’t have been able to go home or contact Laura on the reg even if he wanted to. So…yeah! A bit more challenging than your standard “she just didn’t want to tell him” secret baby romance.

From Steam to Intimacy

The other truly stand-out feature of this novella, other than the fact it got me to sympathize with a secret baby romance scenario, was the structure of it all. The novella opens with Laura and Adam meeting on a balcony under the starry night sky after having attended neighboring wedding receptions. They both decide rather quickly to fall into bed together. What I assumed would either be a quick sex scene, or perhaps a fade-to-black cut to the morning after, was anything but. Sure, they fall into each other’s arms pretty speedily upon arriving at the hotel room, but we surprisingly see their one night together play out over several chapters. This small detail was ultimately unbelievably critical in establishing a sense of intimacy between these characters, where we legitimately believe they would pine after each other for the next several years throughout Adam’s deployment.

Normally with one-night romances like this I always question “yeah but how could they fall in love so quickly”, or “how much could they really learn about the other person in such a short period of time?” With this novella, that was never once called into question because we essentially see every critical conversation and loving gesture play out during those first chapters. Upon reconnecting after years apart, Laura and Adam discover the chemistry and desire is still clearly evident between them. However, they choose to push this desire aside for a while so Adam can focus on getting to know his daughter, and Laura can focus on sharing her daughter with someone else for the first time ever. Once that’s resolved they do fall back into bed, or rather over the arm of the sofa, together again. This structure of having the moments of physical intimacy forming the book-ends to Laura and Adam forming a family unit together was just brilliant.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Manhattan Holiday Loves, book 3. We may have seen the tales of romance play out for each member of this friend family, but I’m secretly hoping we’ll see some additional installments to cover all the other holidays in a calendar year. I mean, maybe they can all have some long-lost relatives show up that they never knew existed. Totally plausible, right?

Final Impressions: Each novella in this series is a pure delight. This final installment might jump into the steamy bedroom quicker than the previous two, but then we are thrown for a loop with a few dry spell chapters inserted in the middle. Towards the end we do get a bit of over-the-top drama concerning Laura’s prissy mother and a misunderstanding around some paperwork, but all in all it was important to show how miscommunication can lead to the most intense of arguments, but only by coming back together with an open mind can they potentially overcome anything together as a couple. This whole series presents us with some crucial takeaways for having a successful relationship, and this third novella is no different.

Smut Level: Hot daaaaaang! Adam is the dirtiest talking of the bunch, and presents us with a sex position I can’t say I’ve ever seen in all my years of romance reading. Hats, gloves, shirts, pants and all possible clothing off to you my friend!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 125 Pages. Get the whole series.

The Wages of Sin by Kate A. Knight

Amy has been determined to locate her parents’ killer and uncover the reason for their murders for over a decade. When Todd Birch comes on the scene, he threatens to distract her in ways she never thought possible.

What’s it About?

Amy Koehler knows deception better than anyone. Half her life is a secret and the other half is a lie.
The only truth she knows is her love for one man.
Todd Birch is everything she ever wanted and doesn’t deserve.

When there are no more secrets…
Todd must decide whether Amy is worth fighting for.
Broken beyond anything he ever imagined, Amy tests the limits of his love. He puts everything on the line to save her – his career, his honor, his life.
But even that may not be enough.

When all that’s left is the truth… and there’s nowhere left to hide…
There isn’t anything Amy won’t sacrifice to avenge her father.
She knows she is no better than the people she hunts… merchants of death, beasts without a soul.
But Amy will tear their world apart, even if it means destroying the man she loves.

The story must end…
Because the wrongs of her past can never be righted.
She must kill the ones who wronged her. They will pay for their sins with blood.

It is only a sacred truth… that the Wages of Sin is death.

First Impressions

From Jamaica to the Dominican Republic, to Paris and the outskirts of Washington, DC, the entire series has been building to this moment. Books one and two in this series may have followed the same characters, but the plots of the books were so distinct that you couldn’t help but question how the two were supposed to link together in any meaningful way. Well, enter book three where all the different pieces are joined together to form one haphazard and troubling puzzle. We have Amy’s confrontation with the man who will lead her to her father’s killer, her work bringing a terrorist to justice, her complicated relationship with Anne, and finally her tumultuously passionate yet argumentative relationship with her husband, Todd Birch. There was certainly a lot going on…too much going on in my opinion, to the point where it felt like no one story line received the depth and attention it deserved. Finally, all of the progress from book two of Amy learning to trust Todd seemingly evaporated between the last page of that novel and the first page of this one without any explanation.

A Confusing Marriage

Throughout all the mystery and espionage of the last two books there has been one element that has remained constant throughout the series, and that was Amy and Todd. They’ve been linked and drawn to each other since day one, and Todd is really the only man Amy has ever deigned to love. The main dilemma for us as the readers though is that neither character can be considered “likeable”. With each additional novel I found it near impossible to root for them to succeed as a couple, and questioned at times if the series would conclude with them riding off into the sunset together, or killing each other. Either option was certainly plausible. Amy herself would constantly waffle between an internal dialogue of pure infatuation for the man, to be quickly replaced by one of suspicion, fear and pure animosity. They were both abusive to each other mentally and physically, and seemed like they were using each other for ulterior purposes. Again, it was a challenge to root for either of them.

The Big Reveal

If we had to toss out one plot line that seemed quite unnecessary, it would have to be Amy’s work case to get to a known terrorist. This story line resulted in her seeking out the terrorist’s son to uncover personal information to convince the other son to reveal where their father was hiding. It was just…too many lines removed from the main drama of the novel, and the only way it really impacted any of the story was that it brought Amy to Paris where a man who knew about the man who ordered the death of her parents was located. As you can see, there’s a lot to keep track of here.

When we finally get to the big penultimate reveal of who was responsible for the death of Amy’s parents I only had one reaction, “Well…duh!” I couldn’t be sure if this was supposed to be a huge, shocking twist, but honestly it was something that seemed fairly evident since book one. While I could understand and sympathize with Amy’s quest for vengeance, I couldn’t stand behind some of her methods towards discovery, such as killing most of the associates involved in her plotting to ensure nothing could be linked back to her. There was so much senseless killing involved that you question if Amy is supposed to be our heroine, our villain, or perhaps a little bit of both.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: The Sins Trilogy, book 3. Honestly I was happy to see this series come to an end.

Final Impressions: Overall, it was difficult to connect with, or even like, a single character in this series, let alone our main character. Too much was happening, the pacing was off, and it was difficult to tell if our lead couple loved or loathed each other. The ending was rather predictable, anticlimactic and rushed, and there were significant grammatical errors littered throughout. It definitely had the potential to be an intriguing tale of espionage, but there were too many elements that needed reworking.

Smut Level: Like Amy and Todd’s emotional relationship, their physical relationship was rather problematic as well. At times it was full of steam and passion. Other times left bruises and other physical pains. Even when the two fought and screamed at each other, they always maintained an intense desire for each other. Talk about whiplash!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Khaton Press. 400 Pages.