Try as I Smite by Abigail Owen

Try as I Smite by Abigail Owen

We have all the mages, angels, demons, windigos and Charles Dickens Christmas Carol references you could ever possibly want for some holiday spirit. Now, whether that holiday is Halloween or Christmas is anyone’s guess!

What’s it About? 

Alasdair Blakesley is the head of the Covens Syndicate. He shouldn’t need to look beyond the witches and warlocks he governs, or his own abilities, to solve any problem. But a demon infestation means he can’t trust anyone who may be possessed. The last person he wants to ask for help is also the only person who can fix this, so he sucks up his pride and storms into her office.

And she turns him down cold.

As the owner of Brimstone Inc., Delilah’s passion is helping others with their supernatural problems. But Alasdair is the last man Delilah wants to tangle with. The infuriating man sees too much and demands even more. And did she mention the way he sets her body on fire? Not that it matters—demons are the only things with which she cannot interfere. Too bad a higher power steps in and sends them both on a crash course of each others’ pasts, presents, and futures. How is a Christmas Carol nightmare supposed to solve his demon problem without breaking the rules she’s bound by?

First Impressions

As far as I’m concerned, Alasdair and Delilah are the king and queen of penetrating stares, smirking grins, and the ubiquitous eyebrow lift. From the first moment we witness these two in a room together, or office to be precise, we can’t wait for the eventual moment when they’ll rip each other’s clothes off to devour one another. Now granted, Alasdair is currently encountering a bit of a demon problem in which his fellow mages are being possessed by their enemies in a hellish attempt at demonic world domination, but…ya know…his sexual chemistry with Delilah is still forefront in our minds. Priorities!

A Demonic Christmas for the Ages

When Alasdair comes to Delilah for help with ridding his people of demons, she surprisingly refuses to assist him herself. This shocks Alasdair considering she’s known throughout the supernatural world for helping those in need. While he is rightly pissed off at her initial refusal, and assumes it stems from her personal dislike of dealing with him, we can tell there’s a secret reasoning behind Delilah’s rebuff. She doesn’t leave him out in the wintry cold completely though, and instead sends him to another woman for help…her mother. Rather than solve his problem for him, Delilah’s mother proceeds to send both Alasdair and Delilah through a Dickens-like Christmas Carol journey, observing scenes from their past, present, and future.

These scenes are supposedly the key to Alasdair’s solution, but as he spends more time trapped with Delilah through all of these emotional moments in time, he can’t help but feel increasingly linked with her as each vision passes. They become connected in a way that is special and all-consuming, and even though he needs to get back to his people, Alasdair also doesn’t want this time with Delilah to end. A gripping need starts to envelop them, and before long they’re more entranced with each other than the scenes playing out before them. Hands down my favorite point in the entire book was when they’ve been transported to a new scene, and Alasdair essentially declares he doesn’t care what lesson this particular glimpse is supposed to teach him, and instead he proceeds to ravish and taste Delilah all over while pushing her up against a wall. Makes things a bit more interesting than your typical Christmas Carol rendition, doesn’t it?

Being Consumed with Possession

My regular readers will have undoubtedly seen me utter the phrase many times throughout the years that considering how many books I read it really does take a lot for a story to surprise me. I can usually guess at some point where the plot is going to lead. However, I must say this battle against possessive demons truly had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation from start to finish. I never really knew where the story wanted to take me, and there were a few twists and turns along the way that I didn’t see coming. Something I did appreciate throughout the read was the emphasis on Alasdair and Delilah discovering that they were always stronger together than they could ever be apart from each other. It wasn’t about him rescuing her as a damsel in distress, or her opening his eyes to a woman’s worth, but rather that their connection as a unit was everything worth fighting for.

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

Series: Brimstone INC, book 4. This is a great series full of fantastical characters. You don’t necessarily need to read all the books which came before, but you might as well!

Final Impressions: This is a quick and engaging read that you won’t want to put down! In a way it sort of reminded me of a Nightmare Before Christmas in that it’s really a fun batch of entertainment for either Halloween or Christmas. You no longer need to choose one over the other! This read allows you to have your cake and eat it too. Or lick the frosting off of Alasdair if at all possible.

Smut Level: Alasdair is so taken with Delilah he can’t help but take her up against a wall during one of their Christmas Carol-esque visions. If that’s not passion I don’t know what is!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 123 Pages

A Timeline Restored by Rebecca Hefner

A Timeline Restored by Rebecca Hefner

Alas, the series had to come to an end at some point. We all hold our breath in collective anticipation, wondering if this group of friends will finally succeed in breaking the time loop cycle they’re stuck in to save the world.

What’s it About? 

The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy…Eli Hernandez spent decades cultivating an image of fear and domination as the nefarious leader of the New Establishment. Yet, deep inside, he still clutches onto the barest hope that his irredeemable soul has vestiges of virtue. Alora Castillo lost everything one fateful day long ago as Eli looked on, unable to stop the carnage. Resolved to detest him, she must forge ahead when they are thrust together as unlikely allies. As the ragtag team of time travelers strives to reconnect with their leader, dark forces hide behind the scenes, manipulating fate as the cycle carries on. Determined to succeed and prevent the past, the team battles the evil regime, unwilling to accept failure. But accepting the yearnings of the heart requires forgiveness—a concept Alora dismissed long ago, no matter how fervently she secretly longs for Eli’s embrace. Will the team save the world and prevent President Randolph from detonating the apocalypse? Read the electrifying finale now!

First Impressions

Each and every couple in this series was just as delightful and entertaining as the last, and these two just might be my favorite of the group. There was so much angst, passion and heated history between them that you couldn’t help but root for them to acknowledge how much love and adoration was lying just beneath the surface. In any given scene you couldn’t really tell if they would fight, scream, shove the other up against the wall to tear their clothes off, or a combination of all of the above. There’s a complicated past which exists between Eli and Alora which was constantly pulling them together, yet pushing them apart at the same time.

An Unforgivable Past

The history of Eli and Alora is fraught with tension, pain and distrust. Years ago, Eli’s father killed Alora’s entire family, and while he couldn’t find a way to save them all, Eli was able to convince his father to spare Alora’s life. Throughout the years they’ve been enemies, constantly fighting against each other. However, only recently have they discovered they’re actually allies, as Eli has secretly been finding ways to support their rebel cause and mission to bring down the New Establishment which is set on world domination. When Alora is captured by these enemy forces, Eli once again has to use his cunning to think of a way to rescue her. What better solution than to suggest a marriage of convenience? Loooove it!

While Eli is constantly demonstrating his will to protect Alora, there is still an underlying distrust she feels towards this man. After all, she’ll constantly associate him with that terrible day when her family was gunned down in front of her. They always say “actions speak louder than words”, and Eli’s actions certainly express an unbreakable devotion to Alora, but she still finds it difficult to accept his help towards her and her friends. When he eventually declares his love for Alora she sees it as the ultimate challenge to forgive and forget a past which has influenced her entire trajectory in life. It’s easy for us to berate Alora’s decision to constantly push Eli away, especially when we consider how many times he’s risked his own life to protect her. I lost count of the moments when I wanted to exclaim, “oh just forgive him already!” However, it’s also crucial for us to remember that tragic moment from their shared past which makes us understand why it is so difficult for her to pull Eli into her arms.

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

Series: Prevent the Past, book 3. Something I loved about this entire series was that in addition to being presented with an engaging couple, we’re always exposed to a strong and admirable female lead. This final book in the series was no exception to that delightful feature!

Final Impressions: Eli and Alora were certainly a captivating couple of characters, but just as entertaining was the family we’ve followed throughout this entire series. They’re not necessarily a family bound by blood, though some are unknowingly connected in that way. Rather, they’re a family of their own choosing. They’ve fallen in step with each other, and are honored to fight and die by each other. It was such a beautiful and honest form of familial devotion. We are constantly kept guessing as to how this team will succeed in saving the world, and if it’s even possible to break out of the time cycle loop in which they constantly fail in their ultimate goal. It’s a fun guessing game right up to the very end. The final aspect of this novel which I enjoyed was the fact that while Eli was the first to say he loved Alora, and constantly tried to fight for her affection, in the end we see that she must now fight for him. The fate of their relationship didn’t just lie in one or the other, but instead they each had to step up to the plate.

Smut Level: Eli and Alora have a chemistry which is off-the-charts explosive.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 218 Pages. 

A Destiny Reborn by Rebecca Hefner

A Destiny Reborn by Rebecca Hefner

This series follows a team of time travelers who travel to 2035 to prevent a nuclear apocalypse. Considering how this year is going…maybe they should have set 2020 as their destination!

What’s it About? 

Thrust into a world they barely comprehend, two time travelers are forced to survive with only each other as allies.Claire Finch, the kind, bubbly scientist, has sacrificed her hidden dreams for the cause: to prevent the apocalypse and save the world.Cyrus Montgomery, a tough, stoic soldier weary from the battle scars of war and barren dystopia.Together, they traverse the unfamiliar circumstances, both fighting and denying their mutual attraction.But destiny can be manipulated by unseen forces, and as they navigate the uncharted timeline, they discover a united strength they never possessed apart…and learn that true love ultimately prevails if the warnings of the past are heeded with caution and diligence.

First Impressions

The first novel in this series focused on a team of scientists and other heroes who were determined to finish building a time travel device, and go back to 2035 to prevent the moment in history when everything went wrong. At the end of that first novel we saw some team members successfully travel back in time, but ultimately discover they were stuck in an endless loop of traveling back only to continuously fail in their pursuit, so that everything could start back up again from the beginning. This second novel opens with two members of the team who overshot the 2035 destination, and instead find themselves in 2002 separated from the rest of their team.

I’ll admit, I was a bit wary to discover this installment finds our lead characters separated from the rest of the team, as the family dynamic between all of the characters was one of the standout features of the first novel. Would Claire and Cyrus be able to provide enough of that chemistry to replace the connection we saw from the group? While I did miss some of that friendship we glimpsed throughout the team, believe me when I say that Claire and Cyrus have enough playful banter between them to keep you entertained, not to mention their solitude pushes the plot forward in other meaningful ways.

A Shining Light

My initial apprehension over the missing crew members quickly turned to pleasant surprise at the discovery that their absence would allow Claire to come into the spotlight and shine all her own. It seems as though even Claire was surprised to find that she’s a bad-ass in her own right. While she definitely appreciates having Cyrus there with her in this strange time to help guard over her, Claire never fully falls back on him to protect or rescue her from trouble. Living in this other timeline away from the group makes her realize an inner strength she never knew she had. She also has the chance to reflect on what she really wants out of life.

Even though they were shocked to find themselves essentially stuck in a time so distant and different than their own, Claire now acknowledges that she wants to stay in this timeline. She and Cyrus can help research and set the groundwork needed to help their team in the future, but there will no longer be this sole driving motivation of needing to save the world resting on their shoulders. They finally have the chance to live a life of their own choosing, not to mention be surrounded by enough bountiful food to have french toast for breakfast, lunch, or dinner whenever they feel like it.

Standing Right in Front of Her

Rather than being solely focused on time travel and saving the world, living in this other timeline also allows Claire to admit what she wants in life more than anything else. Cyrus. She’s loved him for years, and has always sensed an underlying attraction from him as well. Only when they now have the opportunity to spend time alone with each other does Claire discover just how much Cyrus has been pushing his feelings for her to the side. He continuously tries to push her away, declaring that she deserves someone better who is also closer to her in age.

Claire doesn’t know when or why Cyrus convinced himself that he wasn’t good enough for her, or that she wasn’t strong enough to go after what she wants. And she wants him. A life together with him. Claire refuses to let Cyrus push her aside, and it was unbelievably refreshing to see this woman find the strength within herself to no longer be relegated to a corner. She’s not afraid to fight for him, or show him all the reasons they belong together.

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

Series: Prevent the Past, book 2. I can’t wait to see where this series goes, especially in regards to whether or not our team can break the loop they’re all stuck in to succeed in saving the world.

Final Impressions: This second novel definitely starts and ends with a bang, but throughout much of the book we see Cyrus and Claire play more of an observatory role in relation to the dramatic events leading to the apocalypse. I’ve always considered romance novels as an escape from the harsh realities of the world, and while the connection between our two lead characters provided that pivotal escape at times, this series also demonstrates how far political aspirations and beliefs can plunge the world into absolute chaos. All things considered, it was a tad depressing at times to witness the realism lying within this futuristic plot. Nevertheless, you’ll fall in love with Cyrus and Claire, and hope that somehow this team will succeed in finding a way to prevent the past.

Smut Level: Cyrus’s broken ankle might have him limping around town on crutches, but it certainly doesn’t slow him down in the bedroom! We see a few dominant tendencies emerge from Cyrus, but nothing that goes too over the top. Their chemistry is simply delicious.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 176 Pages

I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Here’s one more parting image of the wonderfully gorgeous Idris Elba for your viewing pleasure. The smile, the sprinkling of salt and pepper through the beard, sighhhhhh!!!

Djimon Hounsou was also considered for a considerably long time.

The Blood King by Abigail Owen

After fully investing yourself in this world, you’ll start to look at every rustle of the trees, every movement of the clouds, every shimmer of the water and wonder…will there be dragons?

What’s it About? 

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Ruthless dragon king Ladon Ormarr must keep his throne at all costs. And now, with war on the horizon, he’ll need a miracle. Luckily, the fates have dropped Skylar Amon right into his lap. Except he may have met his match.

The feisty Amon sister has no fear—of him or any other dragon shifter—is brash, doesn’t stick to protocols, and regularly offends his warriors and advisers. Skylar also has no intention of sticking around. She doesn’t believe in the whole destined mates thing and believes all dragon kings to be dangerous. But if it means taking out the High King who murdered her parents, she’ll put up with Ladon…temporarily.

But the fates have other plans. And when Skylar disappears in the middle of a battle, Ladon will burn down the world to find her.

First Impressions

I have been waiting so long for us to finally meet Ladon Ormarr, the infamous leader of the Blue dragon clan. Let me just say that after multiple books of waiting to witness him in his full glory, I was not disappointed! He possibly represents the most intriguing collection of juxtapositions we’ve come across from a male lead in this series so far, as well as in comparison to the companion Fire’s Edge series. A just, yet ruthless leader who never wanted to lead, but stood up for his people when it mattered most. An alpha-male to the extreme who is constantly overprotective of his mate, yet manages to push aside his possessive instincts by encouraging Skylar to follow her gut in battle. It’s the perfect blend of a warrior with a soft side, a caring lover who desires his woman, and a leader who is willing to give it all up for the woman he loves. Le sigh.

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From Enemies to Mates

A distinctly unique feature of this installment in the series is that Skylar and Ladon agree to mate fairly quickly after meeting. Normally, the mating scene between our male and female lead is one of the final climactic features of the book, as we wait with baited breath wondering if their bond will form successfully, or if one of them will die in a fiery mishap. In this instance though, the fact that Skylar is a rare phoenix means it’s less important that they be true, destined mates. The more important consideration for their mating is that Skylar willingly choose Ladon as her mate, an action which she is more open to after witnessing his nature as a leader. You can’t deny though the smoldering connection which exists between them, and it’s something which makes their mating process a bit easier to swallow.

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The fact that Skylar had to choose Ladon as her mate presents us with another aspect of this entire series which I’ve truly appreciated, which is that we’re constantly presented with female characters who are tough-as-nails, and know how to make decisions for themselves. They’re not afraid to run head first into battle, and aren’t willing to sit in the shadows as the action takes place around them. Rarely do they play the damsel in distress, but rather can get themselves out of many a nasty scrape, or can work as a team with their mate to solve the most pressing of problems. Our novel might begin with Skylar as a hard-headed and independent lady with plenty of spunk, but her bond with Ladon has a way of breaking down the highest of walls which she’s erected around herself. By the end these two are a connected force to be reckoned with…and Skylar still has plenty of sass to throw in Ladon’s direction!

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

Series: Inferno Rising, book 2. Once again we have a compelling read where I can’t wait to see what comes next. This installment further lays the groundwork for the progression of the series, and introduces us to the rest of the phoenix sisters who will undoubtedly prove to be formidable heroines going forward.

Final Impressions: I definitely recommend reading this series in order, and in conjunction with the Fire’s Edge series, as it helps to understand the world of characters and politics which have been presented to us thus far. We witness additional mayhem and brutality at the hands of our villain, and I’m excited to see how all of these heroines and heroes might join together in the fight for justice. More to come, and I’ll await with anticipation!

Smut Level: Ladon might initially see Skylar as the solution to his political fights, but he quickly realizes she’s also the answer to his deepest desires.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 416 Pages.

Sacrificed to the Dragon by Jessie Donovan

By the end of this novel you can’t help but wonder who loves Melanie more: the man or the dragon?

What’s it About? 

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In exchange for a vial of dragon’s blood to save her brother’s life, Melanie Hall offers herself up as a sacrifice to one of the British dragon-shifter clans. Being a sacrifice means signing a contract to live with the dragon-shifters for six months to try to conceive a child. Her assigned dragonman, however, is anything but easy. He’s tall, broody, and alpha to the core. There’s only one problem—he hates humans.

Due to human dragon hunters killing his mother, Tristan MacLeod despises humans. Unfortunately, his clan is in desperate need of offspring to repopulate their numbers and it’s his turn to service a human female. Despite his plans to have sex with her and walk away, his inner dragon has other ideas. The curvy human female tempts his inner beast like no other.

First Impressions

When I first started listening to this audio book, I remember thinking that the description of this agreement to live with a dragon-shifter clan as a “sacrifice” seemed a bit over the top. After all, that term is usually associated with death, and this contract essentially seems to revolve around sex. A vial of life-saving dragon’s blood in exchange for Melanie spending six months with a dragon in an attempt to procreate. However, it’s not long before we discover that most women who enter into this kind of exchange aren’t strong enough to survive the complexities of giving birth to a dragon. More often than not, it results in the woman dying. Lo and behold the sacrificial moniker seems a bit more appropriate!

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The premise of this novel seemingly had everything you would want in a fantastical romance that would result in an exciting and phenomenal read. Human and dragon thrown together. A binding agreement to have a child in exchange for the blood needed to save her brother’s life. Moving to a remote dragon community which is un-trusting of outsiders. Dragon hunters for crying out loud!! Let’s get this party started!!! Unfortunately, after this premise is outlined to us and we’re introduced to all the key players, the story never really gets elevated to it’s full potential.

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It’s Almost Too Easy

Melanie gets pregnant almost immediately, meaning the question of whether or not she’ll be able to fulfill her side of the bargain evaporates instantly. The next feature which we would undoubtedly start to wonder about would be the threat to Melanie’s life in childbirth. However, this never really seems to be an issue at the forefront of our character’s minds, or at least we’re never presented with a building amount of tension as her pregnancy progresses where it appears to be a primary concern. Instead the sole focus is on the interactions between Melanie, Tristan, and his dragon, as well as Melanie figuring out how to integrate into this new community she’s found herself in.

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The animosity between Melanie and the dragon villagers was another feature that I thought could build up some interesting tension, but yet again this is an aspect which never resulted in any kind of direct confrontation. The angst and contention of the novel is focused instead between Melanie and Tristan, but possibly more so between Tristan and his dragon. Upon first meeting, Tristan’s dragon immediately recognizes Melanie as his mate, and the urge to claim her as their own kicks in right away. However, we see that Tristan is constantly fighting against his dragon’s connection to Melanie, and it seems as though his dragon has a strong emotional connection to her than he does throughout the entirety of the book. They obviously have a sexual connection, but if we didn’t see such desperation on the side of his dragon to be near Melanie, I seriously question if Tristan was really all that interested in her.

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Series: Stonefire Dragons, book 1. While this first book wasn’t my favorite, I was intrigued by some of the secondary characters. I could see myself exploring book 2 at some point in the future.

Final Impressions: Simply put, I wanted more from this one. The foundation for a spectacular novel was definitely there, but it wasn’t as action-packed and suspenseful as I would have liked. The most disappointing feature of the book for me was the fact that we never see any direct conflict with the dragon hunters. The only action sequence which does take place with them happens “off camera”, and we only see the aftermath rather than the action described in real time. I will say the inner musings and arguments that Tristan has with his horny dragon were quite humorous, and combining this erotic desperation with the voice of our narrator (who sounded like a stuffy British librarian) lent an unintentional comedic tone to certain aspects of the story. Overall I think too much time was spent on Tristan trying to fight his connection to Melanie, and I was never fully convinced of his commitment her.

Smut Level: Upon first mating, Tristan’s dragon is determined to impregnate Melanie as quickly as possible. Let’s just say they don’t leave the bedroom until it’s mission accomplished.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Mythical Lake Press, LLC. 258 Pages.

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A Man of Character by Margaret Locke

“What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?”

What’s it About? 

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Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do … especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.

A startling revelation — that these men are fictional characters she’d created and forgotten years ago — forces Cat to reevaluate her world and the people in it. Because these characters are alive. Here. Now. And most definitely in the flesh.

Her best friend, Eliza, a romance novel junkie craving her own Happily Ever After, is thrilled by the possibilities. The power to create Mr. Perfect — who could pass that up? But can a relationship be real if it’s fiction? Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which — or whom — she wants more.

Blending humor with unusual twists, including a magical manuscript, a computer scientist in shining armor, and even a Regency ball, A Man of Character is a whimsical-yet-thought-provoking romantic comedy that tells a story not only of love, but also of the lengths we’ll go for friendship, self-discovery, and second chances.

First Impressions

Looking back on this novel I have to say that the premise was probably the strongest part. We’re presented with Cat, a seemingly lifelong bachelorette who is down on her luck in love and in life. But then something fantastical happens. Not only do a slew of different men start asking her out, but she comes to realize that these men are actually characters she created in stories when she was younger. Cat soon discovers that an old manuscript passed down through her family explains the power that the women in this family wield when it comes to putting pen to paper. In the midst of this literary conundrum she also meets a man with whom she has the strongest connection, but she can’t help but wonder if he’s real, or simply a character of her own creation which she can’t remember.

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It certainly sounded like such a fun read at the outset! Unfortunately I felt like the story never went to the next level it needed to in order to reach its full potential. Similar to the narrator’s delivery of the audiobook which I listened to for this read, the progression of the story also came across as a bit flat. More life needed to be injected into it! I almost wish it had been elevated one additional level of silliness so we could lose ourselves in the fantasy of the situation. Or…we could have done a complete turnabout and gone full on horror scenario, but overall I think I would have preferred a more comedic lift to the plot and narration.

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The Family Manuscript

As discussed earlier, an old manuscript which Cat’s father left her before he died contains the answers as to why these fictional characters have just recently come to life. This manuscript presented us with both a heartbreaking, yet frustrating influence to the plot. Let’s start with the heartbreaking side of things. At the start of the novel, we see Cat’s father wrapping up this manuscript to give to his beloved daughter on her birthday. It’s an item his own mother had given to him with clear instructions on when he needed to give it to Cat, and also the history contained within this manuscript which grants the female family members with an unbelievable power. Sure, it’s a power he himself doesn’t believe, but what’s the harm in sharing this silly story with Cat?

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Sadly, we then see him pass away from a heart attack before he ever gets a chance to give it to Cat, or explain the implications of its history. The untimely death of her father has an enormous impact on Cat, and we especially see this come to the forefront when she interacts with these fictional love interests. In a way, she has so much power literally at the end of her pen. She can create the ideal man. What woman wouldn’t want that? Well, for Cat she realizes there are things far more important than creating a man on paper for herself. She’d much rather have her dad back, spend time with her family and friends, and find someone who chooses to love her of their own free will rather than being written to love her. It was really a powerful exploration of what truly matters in life.

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This is all well and good but there was another aspect of this manuscript which frustrated me to no end. Basically, Cat barely spends any time with it! This is seemingly the key which contains the answers to all her questions. It was only after this thing came into her life that madness ensued. If it were me, I’d read that thing from cover to cover, and probably more than once just to ensure I had all the information I needed. As for Cat, she doesn’t really seem that concerned with it. She only bothers to read the intro, the final conclusion, and get the whole thing photo-copied because of it’s age. But then she just pushes it aside without another attempt to discover what secrets or explanations might be lying within.

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Series: Magic of Love, book 1.

Final Impressions: Overall, the premise was far superior to the execution of the story. I wanted more from it, whether that be comedy or suspense, I honestly could have gone in either direction. Instead the story just kind of stays flat at the same level throughout the entire read, and I never felt like I connected strongly with the main character’s personality. It was also kind of surprising, considering we’re dealing with a romance novel here, how often the characters of the book berated romance novels. Her friends and family laugh at Cat for ever having written love stories, and the concept of her amorous writings seems almost more unbelievable than the prospect of her characters coming to life.

Smut Level: A fairly clean read.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Locked on Love Publishing. 336 Pages.

The Impassioned Choice by Rebecca Hefner

A sexy geek with six-pack abs, an incredible intellect, and a Ryan Reynolds sense of humor. Ummm…can I have him?

What’s it About?

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A new villain emerges, threatening the peace the immortals crave…

Heden, the youngest Vampyre royal, has always strived to live up to his sovereign duty. As the most gifted programmer in the immortal world, he applies his skills to protect the kingdom and the family he adores. But his siblings have all settled down with families of their own, and Heden often feels like a perpetual third wheel.

Wracked with guilt after her grandfather’s violent death, Sofia Morelli made a sinister pact with an unknown ally. Utilizing her tech ingenuity to plan the ultimate attack against the immortal royals, she begins to realize they might not be the nefarious enemies she believed them to be.

As Heden discovers the new adversaries and learns someone on the Secret Society shares his hacking prowess, he realizes the human, Sofia, might actually hold the key to defeating them. Determined to turn the feisty woman to his side, he employs his jovial nature and seduction skills to win her over. But when their tentative connection turns into something more, Heden understands a coding war isn’t the only thing he could lose to the spunky human. For, he might just lose his heart to someone who can never share his immortal future…

First Impressions

Just when I thought Ms. Hefner couldn’t possibly present us with another couple as entertaining and lovable as those which have come before, she goes ahead and blows me away with these two delightful characters. Throughout the series Heden has always proven to be a funny side-character, but one who has always been secondary to the leads from the first four novels. As for Sofia, we were only just introduced to her in the epilogue of the fourth book as an enemy and threat to our immortal royals. When these two hacker’s paths cross in this fifth installment, let’s just say they have quite a lot of ground to cover going from foes to friends to fated lovers.

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So what was it about these two that captivated me so much? First and foremost, their relationship wasn’t based solely on sexual chemistry. After all, our novel opens with Sofia determined to seek revenge against his family for a past tragedy. They have quite a lot to overcome before sex can even be discussed as a possibility. We see how Sofia has the ability to change and put the past behind her, while also retaining her headstrong and fiery personality that you can’t help but admire.

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As for Heden? Lordy lord this hunk of burning love might be my favorite male lead in this series to date. He not only chooses to see the good in Sofia when the rest of his family only sees an enemy, but he can fully acknowledge that she is a more talented hacker than he is. They have a delightfully cute bickering and teasing relationship when it comes to all things tech. Interestingly though, Heden doesn’t feel threatened or emasculated by her talent, or the fact she’s better than him at something he’s always excelled at. Quite the opposite. It proves to be a massive turn on. Every line of code she writes, every time she suggests a solution that’s more effective than one of his own, Heden finds himself falling for her even more. You can’t help but love their geeky connection.

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Cue the Waterworks

This is the sixth book I’ve had the pleasure of reading from Ms. Hefner, the fifth in this particular series. However, this is the first book of hers that made me cry. Now don’t get me wrong, some previous reads have certainly made my eyes glisten, but this is definitely the first one where tears were fully flowing, and I was practically left gasping for breath. One might even go so far as to call it ugly crying. What was it about this story and these characters that got to me you might ask? Simple. Their connection and their struggle felt completely real to the point where you’re heartbroken at the thought of it crumbling. It’s quite common in Romancelandia for two lovers to pull away from each other when the going gets tough. More often than not, I want to pull my hair out and scream at them for being so stupid that they can’t find/compromise/discuss an easy solution to their problem. Heden and Sofia also eventually find themselves at such a crossroads, but in this case you can’t help but sympathize and lament with their reasons for contemplating whether or not their relationship can proceed.

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He’s an immortal vampyre. She’s a mortal human. She wants to have children which he can never give her. Even if they chose adoption or insemination, Heden would ultimately have to suffer through watching his greatest loves age away and die. Neither Heden nor Sofia wants to cause the other needless pain, or hold onto a fool’s dream for too long. They both realize they’ll have to say goodbye sooner rather than later, and sacrifice this connection which neither expected to be so all-consuming at the outset. There is one scene in particular where they’re preparing for their eventual goodbye, but also trying to push away the sadness by discussing the dream of what their future together could have been. What their children’s names could be. Living in a fantasy even if it only lasts for a moment. Seriously you guys, even now I’m getting teary-eyed!!

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I think my heart especially broke for Heden, as we’ve constantly seen him try to find laughter and a bright side to everything in life, but it proves impossible this time. A lifelong bachelor who finally opened his heart to love, only to have it broken from a future that could never be. Or could it?

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 5. I love this series so much, and I’m in it for the long haul!

Final Impressions: I must commend Ms. Hefner for still managing to surprise and entertain me 5 books into a series. The drama continues to evolve, the characters always delight, and it’s an emotional journey you never want to end. If I had to nitpick to find a complaint with this read it would be that it was tricky at times to keep all the members of the villainous secret society straight, including their respective motives. The previous four books presented us with one main dastardly villain, and it was always pretty easy to see what he was up to. After his downfall at the end of the last book we’re now presented with a whole new slew of evil-doers, with each one having a unique/difficult-to-remember name. Now, I firmly believe this society of villains led by one particularly nefarious character is well-placed to wreak some immense havoc, but with this first somewhat sporadic introduction to them it was kind of tricky to keep track of ’em all. Overall though, and engaging and emotional read!!

Smut Level: Sofia is hesitant to enter into any kind of sexual relationship with Heden considering that the moments of pleasure within her former relationships have always felt relatively forced and lackluster. Well…Heden isn’t afraid to throw that concern of hers on the floor with the rest of her clothes.

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

Handsome Death by Sara Dobie Bauer

“Priority one has always been to keep him safe, but the joke was on me: I’m the most dangerous thing he’s come across.”

What’s it About? 

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I’m not hunting him; I’m protecting him. At least, that’s what I tell myself. In New York City, a beautiful creature like Tristan Clement should not be walking the streets alone, and I’m the perfect vampire to watch his back. But what if keeping him safe isn’t enough anymore? What if I want to touch? And taste? I need him. But I’ve never needed anyone.

In a world where paranormal creatures live amongst us and must follow certain laws, living life as a dangerous loner works for vampire Ethan. Inhabiting his gleaming apartment, wearing his designer suits, jetting around the world as a fanged killer-for-hire, Ethan does it all alone.

That is, until he literally runs into Tristan. Tristan, who is clearly trouble wrapped in skinny jeans and an oversized sweater. Tristan, with his shock of angelic blond curls. Tristan, who plays piano more beautifully than the old masters– and Ethan would know; he saw Beethoven.

Tristan is gorgeous, a little sassy, and irresistible. Also, Ethan is horrified to note, Tristan has no idea how incredibly tempting he is to things that go bump in the night.

Overcome by the urge to keep Tristan safe, Ethan begins to… well, stalk is such a strong word. What starts as an obsession quickly becomes something more, something that Ethan needs. And to his surprise, Tristan seems to need him, too…

This darkly romantic tale delivers steamy passion and a happily ever after. Be advised that Handsome Death includes explicit m/m content, stalking, mentions of past abuse, and graphic violence.

First Impressions

Guy meets guy in a NYC coffee shop. Seems like a rather standard meet cute, no? Well, when one of those guys is a centuries old mercenary vampire, and the other is a young unsuspecting music student, let’s just say it ramps up the intrigue to a mouth-watering level. At first, Ethan finds his draw to this young human completely inexplicable, but the one thing he does feel is an intense desire to protect and safeguard him. Perhaps it’s simply a lustful attraction which will soon fade.

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However, as time passes and their relationship evolves, we see how both of these men help the other learn to live again. Tristan has the ability to make this rugged mercenary laugh, and feel something for the first time in a long time. It’s shockingly charming to witness the sensitive romantic side of this tough vampire slowly emerge before us. As for Ethan’s influence on Tristan, he helps this young man move on from a previously troubled relationship which made him feel weak, useless and ugly. It doesn’t take long after being enveloped in Ethan’s arms to feel both beautiful and desired at the same time.

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Brought Right to the Edge

Edging plays a rather large role in this novel. Not that kind of edging! Although…come to think of it Ethan does have a lot of fun repeatedly teasing Tristan right to the edge of full pleasure before pulling away. But no, when I refer to edging in this instance I mean that we’re always sort of brought to the edge of something going terribly wrong for our characters, but ultimately things resolve themselves before we’re pushed over that edge. There’s the cusp of our characters breaking up, the finality of death, or in some cases being caught by the authorities. However, things always end up working out before they go too wrong…in most instances.

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In a way, this lent a rather refreshing sense of lightness to the plot, but also meant we were constantly waiting for a shoe to drop that never does. For example, I was confident at the start of the book that Ethan’s mercenary past would in some way insert itself into the bubble which he and Tristan had created for themselves. Perhaps an old enemy would come back to bite him (vampire joke totally intentional). And yet, that never happens. The main focus of the story is really centered on Ethan and Tristan figuring out how they fit into each other’s lives, and discovering that you can find love even when you weren’t looking for it.

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

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Series: Stand-alone. I will say we’re presented with a few delightful secondary characters who I would adore to see more from. Tristan’s spunky best friend in particular was so much fun.

Final Impressions: I read this book in one day. Was that because the characters wouldn’t release me from their captivating world, or because I’ve been stuck inside my apartment for the last week due to covid-19 lock down? Definitely a mixture of both. There is one especially suspenseful moment towards the middle of the book which turns everything topsy turvy. Although it was a moment which we could foreshadow, it was still intense in its delivery. I think I would have liked to see some aspect of Ethan’s mercenary past come more to the forefront in his relationship with Tristan, just as a way to heighten the suspense even more. Overall though, an engaging read that highlights the strength and healing nature of true love.

Smut Level: My goodness gracious, what do these two hunks NOT do?! Some of it is intensely erotic, from the aforementioned edging to the use of ropes, and of course a bit of required biting from our vampiric alpha male. They’re openly communicative though when it comes to the rougher side of their sexual relationship, and have a clear go-no-go system in place. Respect!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Carnation Books. 257 Pages.

HANDSOME DEATH BLURB

A Paradox of Fates by Rebecca Hefner

Lainey is determined to succeed in her quest to solve time travel. It’s her destiny. But when hunky military captain, Hunter, comes along she starts to question if fate has something else in store for her.

What’s it About? 

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One woman bred to save the world…

Dr. Elaine “Lainey” Randolph was born with one sole purpose: to prevent the past. With her brilliant mind and unwavering spirit, she works tirelessly to solve the equations that will finally unlock the mystery of time travel. Then, she will leave the post-apocalyptic future her grandfather created and travel back in time to prevent his calamitous actions.

When handsome military captain Hunter Rhodes appears at Lainey’s remote scientific hub, he offers her protection. But there are strings attached to the mysterious soldier’s proffer, and Lainey finds herself wary of the man who stokes unwelcome longing and desire in her unemotional heart. For Lainey is a scientist, obdurate and dispassionate toward the notion of romantic love.

As Lainey’s band of ragtag scientists and loyal soldiers endeavor to escape the dystopian future, the evil New Establishment threatens to destroy them all. In their unpredictable timeline, the nefarious regime has become all-powerful and will stop at nothing to ensure complete world domination…

First Impressions

This is the second series I’ve seen from Ms. Hefner, and she once again does a fantastic job at presenting us with a world so unique and distinct from our own that you can’t help but be drawn in from page one. However, we also see hints of the familiar strewn throughout this environment that connects us to the characters living within. And what characters they are! There’s Lainey, our devoted scientist who is hell bent to save mankind from the dastardly deeds of her family in the past. She’s a pillar of strength, intelligence, yet there’s also a sprinkling of vulnerability that chips away at this hardened shell she’s built around herself.

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There’s Hunter, the military captain who is a complete stranger to Lainey and her crew, who presents an image of strength and protection, yet also has a soft side to his personality which allows him to get close to Lainey in spite of her protests. And last but not least, there are Lainey’s friends and fellow compatriots. As a unit, they are set and determined in their goal to make a better future for the world by changing the events of the past. Beyond this joint mission though, we see the individual personalities of each character come through to the forefront, and you become entranced by their stories, pains, and tales of love. The plot of the novel is strong, but it’s really these characters the author has created which provide the essential foundation to our own commitment of discovering what fate has in store for them.

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Her Life’s Mission

Since the moment she was born, it has been instilled in Lainey that she has one sole purpose in life. She’s spent her whole life training, studying, and striving to be the savior the world desperately needs. To decipher the possibility of time travel, go back, and prevent the launch of the dystopian future which is their current reality. But in the quest for that noble cause we sadly discover that she has never really had the chance to live a life of her own choosing. Only once did Lainey allow herself to entertain the idea of falling in love, and it ended in such catastrophe that she’s convinced herself she’s not worthy of romance. Rather, the mission of preventing the past, “…was her sole reason for existing. There was no room to focus on anything else.”

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That all changes when Hunter Rhodes comes strutting into her life with a toothpick between his lips. Who knew such a habit could be so damn sexy, or that Hunter’s oral fixation would quickly become her fixation as well? Hint hint, wink wink. Hunter helps Lainey realize that while they can still fight the good fight to bring down a common enemy, there’s more to life than this one mission. There’s passion, companionship, friendship and love. He shows her how to finally start living life by giving into her desires. Deciphering time travel might be time consuming, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also time for a little canoodling on the side. It was fascinating to see how deep-rooted Lainey’s beliefs about her reason for existing truly were, and how they threatened her relationship with Hunter as she continually tried to close herself off from him to focus once again on the mission.

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Traveling Through Space and Time

The most exciting aspect of any time travel story is discovering the idiosyncrasies of how the space-time continuum works in this particular world. Will interacting with people from the past drastically change the events of the future? Or is it actually the destined fate for all of these interactions to happen in order for the future to be the way it is? Can anyone actually change the past? For Lainey and her ragtag crew, they’re so devoted to their mission that they’ll travel back as many times as necessary to prevent the horrors of the past from happening so they can ensure a better future for the world. Even if they find themselves stuck on an endless loop where the enemy continually succeeds, they’ll keep going back in the hopes of finding the path that leads to victory. Our novel ends with these characters still in the midst of their mission, so while we don’t see a conclusion by the end of this first novel, one thing we know for sure is they’ll never give up in their quest for good to prevail against evil.

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

Series: Prevent the Past, book 1. I am so continuing on with this series. No question.

Final Impressions: Ms. Hefner presents us with a fascinating and chaotic world, not to mention a slew of lovable characters that intrigue us readers from page one. We’re so invested in finding out what will become of them, and how they might succeed when so many elements seem to stand in their way. It’s definitely an underdog story, and the fact it’s being led by a strong, smart female makes it all the more gripping. As is often the case with time travel tales, there were a few times where I found it difficult to wrap my head around the scientific repercussions being discussed, but as long as you keep an open mind when it comes to the logistics you’ll be fine! Aside from Lainey and Hunter, I also fell in love with so many of the other characters that I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in future books!

Smut Level: It might take a while before Lainey finally lets her guard down to allow Hunter into her life in the physical sense, but once she does? Hot daaaaaamn. These two don’t hold anything back, and they seem to have a propensity for dirty talk that’s simply delightful.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 232 Pages.

The Reluctant Savior by Rebecca Hefner

Just when you thought this paranormal romance series couldn’t get any better, author Rebecca Hefner delivers in the best way possible!

What’s it About? 

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Evie, daughter of virtuous Princess Rina and malicious Deamon King Crimeous, is a woman torn in half. The first centuries of her life taught her fervent lessons about pain and suffering. For ages, she suppressed her mother’s noble blood, crafting a reality where she was drifting along, needing no one. Until an ancient prophecy calls to her, possibly creating a purpose for her squalid existence.

Kenden has commanded the Slayer army for a thousand years. Strong, cunning and loyal, he longs for the day when Crimeous has been defeated and he can settle down to build a family. Focused on conquering the Dark Lord, he is stunned when Evie makes a brazen demand that must be fulfilled before she chooses to fight with them.

Although incensed by Evie’s ultimatum, Kenden has never desired a woman more than the flame-haired vixen. Though she stirs his ire, he also has a deep well of compassion for the beauty who suffered so much trauma centuries ago. Together they train, and by night their connection grows, building toward the moment when they will battle her father. But, in the end, Evie has a choice and struggles to espouse righteousness over malevolence. For, when one’s worst fears are exposed, the evil is so much easier to embrace…

First Impressions

I have been waiting for Evie and Kenden’s story since the first book in this series. With each passing novel their chemistry and teasing nature has slowly developed, and my craving for what would inevitably be a complicated relationship between them has continued to grow as well. I’m so pleased to say that this fourth installment of the Etherya’s Earth series does not disappoint, both in terms of the romance between Evie and Kenden, and the final climactic battle between good and evil which we’ve seen building throughout the series.

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Vampires and Slayers alike believe that Evie is the fated being to fulfill the ancient prophecy of defeating her evil Deamon father, King Crimeous. She’s hesitant to join their forces, but eventually she identifies the one thing that will finally get her to agree. That would be Kenden. She wants him. He wants her. And yet, he constantly denies them the release they’re both craving, so Evie declares a fantastically delicious ultimatum. She’ll agree to bring down her father, but only if she can get Kenden in her bed. For his part, Kenden believes in monogamy, and giving himself fully to one woman at a time. He refuses to go for a quick tussle between the sheets with Evie, so when she offers her proposition he agrees on one condition. For every time they do the horizontal mambo, Kenden and Evie also have to go out on a date to get to know each other better. You gotta love these two! They both give as good as they get.

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Love and Turmoil

I mean, what’s not to love about the premise of these two finally coming together?! With every date, Kenden manages to dig deeper to understanding the complicated character that is Evie. She is the definition of a troubled heroine. One with a painful past and a darkness within her that is constantly trying to take over. As these two strong-willed characters spend more time together, Evie discovers that her attraction to Kenden isn’t merely grounded in the physical, but rather he represents a calming figure whom she can identify and enjoy spending time with. Both within and outside of the bedroom. However, amidst this pull she feels towards Kenden, we also witness a deep inner turmoil which is constantly threatening to force the two apart.

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As we mentioned, Evie is a troubled character, possibly even more so than her brother who was the focus of the third novel. Whereas he experienced some brief moments of affection from their mother during his childhood, by the time Evie came along her mother was completely broken from the constant abuse of Crimeous. She has never known love, but rather only heartache, pain, torture, and rape. Her blood runs with that of her evil father, which makes Evie think she’s not worthy of anyone’s love. But Kenden can recognize the soft side to her nature, and refuses to give up on her. The more he inserts himself in her life, the more she falls for him, but also the more she tries to convince herself that he’s merely trying to win her over so she’ll fight on their side in the upcoming battle against evil. The constant turmoil these characters face in terms of loving, yet also questioning each other, was a fascinating give and take you can’t possibly turn away from.

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 4. Imagine my utter shock and surprise to discover that this won’t be the last we’ll see of this series! The epilogue provides us with a set-up for a fifth book, and I am so excited to continue on with this series. Definitely some of the best novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading in 2019.

Final Impressions: A stellar read from start to finish. You’re constantly wondering if Evie will ultimately give into the dark side of her personality, and if she does whether or not Kenden will succeed in bringing her back to the light. I absolutely loved the fact that interspersed throughout Kenden and Evie’s tale we caught glimpses of the origin story to Crimeous’ evil past. Something else we saw littered throughout the novel were two side romances involving some of our favorite supporting characters. While I adored these tales, I did question at times how they were interwoven into the overall book, as they sort of distracted us from the main story. Especially considering we’ll have another book in store for us, I wonder if it would have been better to save at least one of these side romances for book 5. Overall though, an incredibly suspenseful tale with amazing characters!

Smut Level: Evie’s ability to remove clothing with her mind proves to be particularly useful in her interactions with Kenden.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 248 Pages.