Dance: Cinderella Retold by Demelza Carlton

This mashup of classic fairytales will have our Mulan-like female lead throwing on Cinderella’s shoes to dance with her Prince. Except “dance” in this regard is more of a euphemism for fighting, and she isn’t afraid to knock the Prince on his a**!

What’s it About? 

A dutiful daughter. A prince forced to find a bride. If the shoe fits…

Once upon a time…

When the Emperor’s army comes recruiting, Mai signs up, seeing it as the perfect escape from her stepmother and a lifetime of drudgery. Armed with her mother’s armour and a pair of magic shoes, Mai marches off to war…only to find herself sharing a tent with the General’s arrogant nephew, Prince Yi.

The best swordsman in the Empire, Prince Yi wants to make war, not love, but the Emperor insists this will be Yi’s last campaign before he must marry. Prince Yi has never met his match…until now.

Can one woman win the war and the prince’s heart?

First Impressions

I wouldn’t so much as categorize this romance as “Cinderella Retold”, but rather as a mashup between two classic fairytales: Mulan and Cinderella. As a matter of fact, when this novel first started I couldn’t help but wonder why the title focused more on labeling this as a Cinderella tale, when the vast majority of the premise revolves around our female lead, Mai, going off to war under the guise of being her father’s son rather than his daughter. Other than the fact she had a mean stepmother and two half-sisters (who are absent from the majority of the book), it sort of felt like a scene-for-scene remake of Mulan instead. It isn’t until the conclusion of the tale that we truly see the Cinderella story come to fruition, complete with a ball, fairy godmother, and a handsome Prince carrying around a lost shoe in the hopes of finding it’s rightful owner. I typically love any kind of romance which features a retelling of a fairytale, but I’ll admit this one got off to a bit of a slow start, as it was almost too much alike when compared to Mulan that I wondered how this novel would set itself apart from the original we all know and love. 

It’s when Mai finally sneaks off to war that this novel comes into its own, distinguishing itself from the tales that came before in a way that will keep you turning the page. For example, I loved the twist that Mai’s evil stepmother is a witch who actually helps conceal Mai’s identity when she goes off to war by enacting an illusion spell to make her appear and sound as a man to everyone else. Then the fact that Mai showed up to training already a complete and total badass who could take down even the legendary Prince of Swords, made me cheer along with every soldier she bested, as well as with every cunning military strategy she employed to lead her troops to victory. It’s when the battle is over that we see the Cinderella storyline come to the forefront, as Mai needs the help of her fairy godmother-like character to remove the cloaking spell concealing her true identity in the hopes of winning the Prince’s heart in her natural womanly form. We are constantly wondering if Mai will ever be able to break the spell which her stepmother cast upon her, or if she’s doomed to spend the rest of her life as a soldier, unable to tell the man she loves how she wants to spend the rest of her life by his side. 

The Elephant in the Room aka the Man in the Tent

One aspect of this novel which is merely brushed upon rather than explored with any full depth was the fact that Prince Yi does start to feel an emotional connection, and possibly even desire for his comrade, Yeong Mao (aka our heroine in disguise, Mai). This was a key element that I really wish had been highlighted more prominently, as we see Prince Yi’s feelings for Mao (Mai), evolve from subordinate to friend, and even to something more. Their friendship is undeniable, but as they spend more time fighting and living together within the same tent, Prince Yi begins to have passionate dreams where he’s getting physical with an unknown woman, only to awake in shock upon seeing the visage of his best friend Mao take the place of the woman. While he admits he might be starting to feel something for this man, it’s sort of glossed over until after Mai turns back into a woman, and Prince Yi wonders if this fighting temptress he’s just met was the true person hiding within his best friend all along. He latches onto this concept as a way of thinking that would be the perfect outcome, almost by saying that then he wouldn’t have to confront the fact he was developing feelings of desire for another man. The end of the novel feels fairly rushed to get to the happily ever after between this man and woman, rather than spending any time discussing how the quintessential bond developed between them when they were both men. 

Series: Romance a Medieval Fairytale, book 2. These books are quick reads, so I might give a few more a try, but they haven’t knocked my socks off quite yet. If anything I think the cover art has been more enchanting than the books themselves. 

Final Impressions: The high point of this book was in the middle section, as it distinguished itself from the fairytales it was trying to emulate by bringing in unique twists and turns to the classic story lines we’re all familiar with. Unfortunately, things kind of started and ended on a low note, as there were too many similarities with the original tales to hold interest. The ending especially felt particularly rushed, and even confusing, as Prince Yi essentially threatens Mai to engage with him in a fight to prove she was the secret identity of his best friend all along. The supplemental characters were also pushed too much into the background in this retelling, as the fairy godmother is present for barely one scene before disappearing entirely, and Mai’s father comes across as rather heartless to his daughter and new family. Mai’s wicked witchy stepmother was definitely an intriguing character, but even her presence could have been highlighted more to really have a villainous counterpoint to our leading lovebirds. Overall, just ok. 

Smut Level: We start to see the stirrings of desire through Prince Yi’s dreams when Mai is still disguised as the manly soldier Mao. However, there aren’t any physical sexual acts until the very final scene of the book. If you’re looking for steam, stick it out until the very end, but if you’re looking to keep this read as a fade-to-black scenario then you can easily stop before the last hoorah. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Lost Plot Press. 234 Pages.

Hit by the Cupid Stick by Abigail Owen

“A siren who lures men to their deaths and a cupid who helps humans fall in love.” I can’t think of a more perfect match for this sexy Valentine’s Day paranormal romance. 

What’s it About? 

All’s fair in love and…whatever this is. This Valentine’s Day, when a cupid accidentally shoots himself with his own arrow, he falls for a siren whose only job is to lure men to their deaths.

Charismatic and irresistibly fun, Chance Eroson is a cupid who gets a kick from pairing odd couples and being right about them. Used to getting his way, the only person who shuts him down is the siren who has ruined more than one of his pairings before they started. But his bigger problem is he wants her. He’s always wanted her.

Elodie Sirenian uses her power for good, only hunting evil men. But after so long, and so many horrible people, her cynicism has settled deep inside. She can turn on the charm when she doesn’t mean it, and they fall for it. Every single one. Every single time.

Except Chance. He’s the only person—man or god—who has ever challenged her.

But a cupid’s magic is temporary. There’s no way a true love match is possible. Not this time.

First Impressions

This is one paranormal novella you’ll want to be sure and add to your Valentine’s Day TBR list. You know when you have those cravings for a romance where the lead characters just go for it? No dilly dallying, let’s get to the good stuff ASAP? Well then this read will scratch your itch. We are not only presented with two delightfully entertaining main characters full of moxie and teasing, but there’s a bit of suspense enveloped throughout the story as their feelings for each other quickly transition from instantaneous lust to trust to love. Chance plays our debonair cupid whose six-pack abs will put the standard cartoonish Valentine cherub image to shame. He and gorgeous siren Elodie have always exchanged a witty rapport throughout the years, though the call of her siren monster to hunt a few of Chance’s targets has sometimes caused them to quarrel on top of their banter. 

All of that changes one night when Chance takes aim with his bow, only to have a misfire when his arrow goes through both he and Elodie, resulting in an immediate, all-consuming need to finally give into their desire for each other. On the one hand they could stay apart in an attempt to ignore their burning passion, or they could dive in head first. It’s no big mystery as to which option these two fall for. On his couch…against the living room window…in his bed…the shower…I think the kitchen may have been involved at one point, etc. etc. But what happens when the power of his arrow ultimately fades? Will Elodie and Chance want to explore a lifetime together, or will they revert back to their solitary ways before the arrow brought all of their secret wants to the forefront? Well, this is a proper romance after all, I’m sure you can guess which way the story goes!

Oh gods and goddesses!

Fans of Greek mythology will definitely have a blast with this read. The fact that Chance’s last name is Eroson, and he’s a cupid…the connection there just filled me with absolute delight! Towards the end of this short read there is sort of a quick mention of multiple mythological characters and stories that I could see being slightly overwhelming for those who aren’t as familiar with those particular tales. Overall though, the way these myths and creatures are interwoven into Chance and Elodie’s story was the perfect mixture of action and romance. While our lovebirds spend the first part of the story steeped in their sensual bubble of sexual delights, we’re also aware that in the not too distant background there exists the plot point of a vengeful minotaur seeking Elodie’s downfall due to her killing of his brother. We do get a few minor confrontations between these characters before one exciting, action-packed final battle scene. 
Another element which went hand-in-hand with this tale of revenge that ultimately provided a well-rounded story arch for our characters was Elodie’s fear at revealing her true siren monster to Chance.

She’s been abandoned by former lovers in the past who couldn’t handle the transformation of this beautiful vixen into a frightening siren who must feed off the aura of her enemies to survive. If the power of cupid’s arrow should wear off, and Chance catches a glimpse of her true monster, will he also be tempted to run? And then there’s Chance’s true nature, which he is quite upfront with Elodie about even though it stands in contradiction to what many would consider the conventions of “masculinity”. He is a cupid after all, doing his best to bring couples together to find love, and his Netflix is jam packed full of romance movies that he consistently fast forwards to get to the good parts, aka all the smooching. He just might be my ideal man! The true test of their love isn’t how well they connect in the bedroom (or taxi cab, or secluded cabin, or shower again, etc. etc.), but rather how they will react to these mythological influences on their personalities: her siren propensity for violence and death, and his cupid devotion to love and a happily ever after. 

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

Series: Brimstone, Inc. book 5. It’s not 100% necessary you read the previous books before you get to this one, but just note that there are a few characters who reappear here from previous installments. 

Final Impressions: Loved it! If it weren’t for my bedtime I wouldn’t have had any problem knocking this baby out in one sitting. There was no messing around before our characters got to the sexy fun times, yet it wasn’t just about the physical component from start to finish either. We have a tale of revenge that will keep you on the edge of your seat, as well as the emotional conundrum of showing one’s true self to the one they’re falling for. It’s something that most of us can probably relate to, even though we’re not mythological sirens or cupids!

Smut Level: Phewwwwww!! There’s a lot of heat packed into these pages. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it might be below freezing temperatures outside, but even I was tempted to crack open a window to cool down a bit. A cupid full of charm and an enchanting siren just might be the best mythological combination possible!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. 114 Pages. 

The Dawn of Peace by Rebecca Hefner

This Etherya’s Earth prequel takes us back to the beginning when Vampyres and Slayers were still at war with each other. When enemies Alrec and Kilani find themselves alone in a secluded cabin together, and with one tied to the bedframe no less, we know these two won’t be at war for much longer. 

What’s it About? 

Before the end of hatred, there was the dawn of peace…

Two immortals from warring species save each other’s lives as the conflict rages on. Alrec, the hulking Vampyre warrior, spares her first. Years later, Kilani, the fierce, uncompromising Slayer, returns the favor. Stuck in her remote cabin, their bond grows as Kilani warily nurses her injured Vampyre, determined to deny her growing desire for the man with deep, knowing eyes and mesmerizing fangs. And, of course, there’s only one bed…

The sizzling prequel to the Etherya’s Earth paranormal romance saga

First Impressions

Any journey we can take to Etherya’s Earth is bound to be an entertaining ride, and this proved true once again when the author takes us back to before the events of the first novel in the series, just a few years after the Awakening has pitted Vampyre against Slayer as immortal enemies. Kilani has never felt like she truly belonged to the high society world she was born into, and until the Slayer army will accept women into their ranks she knows her strength and prowess with a sword will be pushed to the sidelines. That all changes one night when a raid on her family’s compound results in a direct confrontation with a Vampyre soldier who makes her blood boil and her loins…do some boiling of their own. Alrec and Kilani are worthy combatants who like to taunt and tease, which makes their intense sparring quickly turn into the most delightful kind of foreplay. Alrec spares Kilani’s life during their first confrontation, and it isn’t until years later when they cross paths once again that Kilani has the opportunity to return the favor by nursing this wounded soldier back to health in her secluded cabin far away from the prying eyes of Slayer, Vampyre or Deamon. Not one to let her guard down however, Kilani sees the need to tie up this currently bedridden Vampyre so as not to risk his quick healing abilities coming back to literally bite her down the road. 

When Alrec awakens following his injury he’s delighted to see the woman who rescued him is the same one he hasn’t been able to stop daydreaming about for the last few years. The two immediately pick up where they left off, ergo an inordinate amount of flirtatious teasing, eyebrow wagging, and tented bed sheets. What follows is the most delicious evolution of enemies to lovers, as the confined space of the cabin creates a seductive bubble wherein these two can escape, if only for a brief moment, the complexities and battles of the world outside. They have been taught to despise each other, yet when left to their own devices their true nature can’t help but shine forth. They are dutiful soldiers who want to serve their people, but they also have a caring and tender side which comes to the forefront when trapped in each other’s company. He is one of the only men to ever admire and encourage her desire to fight, and Alrec also can’t help but love the courage of this little vixen to stand up and spar with him at any possible moment. As they continue to build up his strength we just know it’s only a matter of time before they test out his newfound strength in the bedroom, but also not long before Alrec must return to his duties as a soldier. How can our lovebirds possibly find their happily ever after when we know that peace between the species is still several centuries away? 

A Secluded Observation

Another hallmark of this series is the savage war being waged against the Deamon leader Crimeous and his scourge of minions. While we’re usually privy to some intense battle scenes in Etherya’s Earth, the fact that Alrec and Kilani spend the vast majority of the novel on the outskirts of civilization within their love cabin means that most of the drama of the story comes from the “will they or won’t they” romance between our lead characters. In a way, the only fight scene we really see come to fruition in exacting detail is the one which takes place at the start of the novel between Alrec and Kilani. There’s a few ensuing mentions here and there of fighting some Deamon clusters, but nothing quite at the level to put us on the edge of our seats. While I definitely appreciated the centralized focus on what was happening inside this secluded cabin, I really would have loved just one scene where we could have witnessed Alrec and Kilani fight together. So much of their time together is spent training and sparring, and to see them work in tandem as partners to defeat a common enemy would have been the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae.  

This is a delightfully quick read which can easily be devoured in one sitting. Considering this is a prequel to events which we know will eventually transpire, and that we know a happily ever after is guaranteed with any addition to this series, you can’t help but commend the author at her ability to heighten our anticipation as we wonder how Alrec and Kilani will ever be able to overcome the multiple obstacles surrounding them to ultimately find peace and happiness with each other. There were definitely a few times that I worried we might be witnessing a tragedy in the making, or maybe even two characters who were doomed to spend centuries apart before finally finding each other again once the events of the subsequent novels have a chance to play out. Alas, rest assured we have a much more satisfying conclusion to their romance than any scenario my mind was conjuring up throughout the read. 

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 0.5. This is definitely one of my favorite paranormal romance series of all time. I’ll take any full-length, novella or prequel addition I can get my hands on. 

Final Impressions: Enemies-to-lovers, secluded cabin, sparring, and light restraints to prevent escape. What’s not to like here?! This is a fantastically quick read that can kick off your exploration into this amazing series. I’d recommend it to anyone going on their next beach vacation, and this is coming from someone who usually isn’t a fan of paranormal romances! The only nitpick I’d have is that I wish we would have had one scene where Alrec and Kilani joined forces to fight off a Deamon or two as a couple. It could have been the perfect culmination to all their training, demonstrate the strength of Kilani as a female fighter, and perhaps even highlight that they’re stronger together as a couple. Again though, this is a minor nitpick to an overall entertaining and steamy read. 

Smut Level: Mmm, sparring. 🙂 The perfect form of foreplay when it comes to this series. All that close contact, heavy breathing, sweating…mmm. And did I mention the bed frame restraints and tenting of sheets?! 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 

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.

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. 

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 Cryptic Prophecy by Rebecca Hefner

As soon as you find a man willing to write you the most beautiful love letters, and also twirl you around in the outdoors, well you better hold on tight to that perfect specimen! Or, in the case of this novel, you better sink your little fangs into him as soon as you can.

What’s it About?

Calinda, daughter of Darkrip and Arderin, has never quite fit in the immortal world. Raised alongside humans, she returned to the realm as the subject of a cryptic prophecy. Feared by some and shunned by others, Callie struggles to understand her place in the kingdom. When a handsome suitor begins to court her, she is taken by his ardent gestures, even if she has doubts.

Stoic Vampyre soldier Brecken grew up far from royal castles and wealthy aristocrats and understands he and Callie are worlds apart. Silently, he guards her and her suitor, falling for her more each time he hears her silken laugh and observes her kindness toward his little sister. He might not deserve her, but he vows to keep her safe.

When Callie’s suitor betrays her by aligning with their enemy, Brecken is there to pick up the pieces. As the final battle with Bakari draws near, Brecken continues to protect Callie, knowing a future between them is uncertain. But Callie is determined to defy the prophecy and prove to her heroic soldier that destinies are never set in stone…and one can determine their own fate if they have the strength to prevail.

First Impressions

There is little that I love more in a romance series than when we ultimately get to focus on the love stories involving the children of our main characters from the earlier novels, and The Cryptic Prophecy presents us with the first iteration of this new generation. Not only do we get introduced to a slew of new and delightful characters, but we also get to see how they interact with some of our other favorites from throughout the series. There’s nothing more fun than seeing our former alpha-male heroes as overly protective fathers and, well…they’re still entirely alpha with their wives to be honest. What’s even more exciting, the battles fought by the parents will now be fought by the children, whether or not they’ve been granted permission to do so. The fact Callie is at the very heart of a cryptic prophecy that might bring down Etherya’s Earth as we know it means that they all have a vested interest in the ultimate fight against evil.

Complexities From Start to Finish

Something I’ve come to appreciate throughout this entire series is the complexity of not only the characters, but also the plot of each and every novel. Our villains are not merely villains. They often have an underlying motive steeped in tragedy or heartbreak that makes you sympathize with their struggle. While we still root for their defeat at the hands of our heroes, we also hope they’ll find a moment of inner peace in their ultimate downfall. And this brings us to the heroes of this sixth novel: Callie and Brecken. Both have so much more going on beneath the surface that we come to unravel as the novel progresses.

Brecken seems like the strong, silent type at the outset. Former soldier turned private bodyguard. But then we discover that the motivation behind every one of his actions is out of a sense of love and duty to his family. He’s their protector, and he’ll do whatever is necessary to take care of them. We also learn that this hard-headed soldier has a softer side to his personality, revealed through the eloquent love letters he pens to Callie. Who would have thought this man of action could also be a man of passionate words? Then there’s Callie, who acts as the shining star throughout the entire book.

At first she almost comes across as the meek and mild princess, always looking in on the actions of others from her spot on the sidelines seeing as the immortals of Etherya’s realm fear this woman who is at the heart of a prophecy which portends their doom. However, Callie also has a feisty, independent side to her character, and a loving nature for all those around her, even those who have shunned her for years. It is this zest for life and warm heart that pulls Brecken to her. When the two finally come together in the heat of passion, they recognize in each other the possibility for a future together. They’ll just need to make it through an epic battle and doomsday prophecy before that future in each other’s arms can be realized.

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 6. As always, I can’t wait to see what comes next with this series.

Final Impressions: After five novels I questioned what else this series could bring to the table that we haven’t seen yet. Well lo and behold, author Rebecca Hefner has the ability for shock and awe once again as everything I thought I knew about this world has been thrown out the window. And yet, we now see that an entirely different door has opened which can only lead us down a slew of different and exciting pathways going forward. I for one can’t wait to see what, or who, is in store for the journey!!

Smut Level: What I loved most about Brecken and Callie was that their physical relationship wasn’t solely about heat, even though there was plenty of it to go around. There was also a sense of beauty and companionship to their coupling which was truly a joy to witness.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 291 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.

Two Souls United by Rebecca Hefner

Two Souls United by Rebecca Hefner

There are countless discussions about some of the best tropes in Romancelandia, including friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, office romance, billionaire romance, etc. I must say this short novella reminded me of another tried and true classic: the bodyguard and his ward.

What’s it About? 

Two of the most beloved characters in the series find their happy ever after in this sweet, steamy novella…

Sam, uncle to Jack, whose strength and bravery are only matched by his kindness and compassion.

Glarys, the feisty, caring estate manager who puts everyone else first.

Two souls who aren’t searching for love but might still find it nevertheless.

Enjoy your time in Etherya’s Earth!

**The Etherya’s Earth series is best read in order so the reader can enjoy the evolution of the characters. After all, the author loves a good twist and wants the reader to uncover them organically. However, readers of romance rest assured that each book has its own featured hero/heroine and HEA.

First Impressions

I have absolutely fallen in love with this series and all the characters we’ve gotten to know in Etherya’s Earth. In my haste to start this novella I only briefly glimpsed the cover of two lovers embracing and jumped right in thinking we’d be treated to another delightful couple in the prime of their immortal lives. Well imagine my excited surprise to discover early on that our female lead, Glarys, didn’t take on her immortal form until she was a white-haired 65-year-old. I never would have guessed the lovely blonde on the cover was in her 50s, let alone 60s, so I really wasn’t expecting this kind of “twist” involving one of our leads. That being said, I do love me some romances featuring mature characters!! Next thing I know I’ve wandered down the internet rabbit hole looking up famous actresses in their 60s who I might be able to picture in my mind as the somewhat shy and reserved Glarys, but who also has a bit of spunk to her personality when it’s needed most. It was…so much fun.

The Discussion of Age

Now, while Glarys has the appearance of a sixty-five year old, and Sam appears to be in his 40s, technically these immortals are both hundreds of years old, so the idea of a twenty year age gap is practically laughable when you look at the big picture. Something I really appreciated with this novella that we really haven’t explored in the previous full-length novels in the series was that even though they’ve been around forever, Glarys and Sam both still have the ability to blush like a couple of teenagers when they first start to flirt and explore a romantic relationship together.

It was such an adorably refreshing sentiment for these two who needed a bit of time to warm up to each other before taking things further. Essentially, just because they’ve been around forever doesn’t mean they have all the confidence in the world when it comes to starting out on a relationship journey with someone new. It’s a side of immortals we just haven’t really seen played out before, and it helps us find a small way to connect to these vampyric creatures from another realm. They can get nervous, feel insecure and blush red just like we can when a long-time crush starts to show us attention. Apparently it doesn’t matter if you’re 25, 65 or 955, new love can be exciting yet nerve racking at the same time!

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 5.5. I will read everything this series and this author has to produce!!

Final Impressions: This novella manages to pack a lot of punch into just under 100 pages, including the friendship and romance between Sam and Glarys, some fight scenes and drama from our deamon enemies, and even some PTSD for Sam having lost his arm in a battle years ago. I would have liked to see just a smidge more interplay or mention of Sam’s nephew, as well as Glarys’s former husband, but heck at that point I’m probably just craving another full-length book to this great series.

Smut Level: If Sam and Glarys teach us anything, it’s that as long as there’s chemistry there’s nothing stopping ya from causing some flames between the sheets. Whether you have the bod of a 65-year-old, or only one arm, passion can make everything perfect.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. 78 Pages.