The Diplomatic Heir by Rebecca Hefner

A new villain has emerged beyond the ether. Will two hybrids who have never wanted to rule find a way to stand up together in the face of evil? 

What’s it About? 

A new era dawns as ancient threats emerge…

Tordor, son of Queen Miranda and King Sathan, was born to inherit the immortal throne. But deep within, he feels a calling to help his people in other ways. As their imminent immersion with the humans looms, he joins a clandestine team to offer his skills.

Esmerelda, daughter of Elf King Dakath, has spent centuries evading her father’s cruelty. Striving to create peace, she leads the team that will approach the humans after the destruction of the ether. Having the kind, diplomatic immortal heir on her team is a fortunate bonus.

As Esme and Tor work together to unify the realms, Dakath’s interference intensifies, reinforcing Esme’s vow to remain free of close bonds. Even if the handsome prince is determined to break through her walls and claim her as his immortal mate…

Can Tordor push past Esme’s fears, or will her father destroy their future before it’s begun?

First Impressions

After seven books you’d think by now I would be used to the author’s ability to take us on a thrilling journey with each new installment in this series, but it still manages to surprise me every time. The Diplomatic Heir presents us with a new immortal species or two, a brand new setting beyond the walls of Etherya’s Earth, and the emergence of a dastardly new villain. Caught in the middle of it all are our two featured leads, Tordor and Esme, delightful new characters that I’m hoping we’ll see featured again and again throughout the rest of the series. They are natural-born leaders who are hesitant to lead, but will always succeed in finding a voice to stand up for their people when it matters most. 

This seventh book does a fantastic job of laying the groundwork for future novels in the series, while also creating a substantive amount of personalized drama for Tordor and Esme to hold our attention throughout this one. In hindsight it was kind of surprising to realize that for an Etherya’s Earth book the vast majority of the plot takes place outside of the world of immortals. However, we can see how necessary this change in setting was to act as a transitional point between the world we once knew before the ether fell, and the reality our characters live in now that the ether has been destroyed. It’s only a matter of time before humans are fully aware of the existence of immortals, so we need to see the beginning phases of how the people of Etherya intend to make this as smooth a transition as possible. Aside from our lead couple, we are introduced to so many new characters who will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in this progressive integration. 

If there was just one minor issue I had with this novel, it would be that we flip back and forth and sideways to so many different characters in the first half of the novel that I had a minor case of whiplash. We’ll see a chapter told from Esme’s point of view, followed by Tordor, then travel over to see what crazy thoughts our villain Dakath has, or we might go back to Etherya to check in on the couple from the first novel (a true delight), but maybe there’s a chapter to be told of a hardened soldier moving on from a lost love, or a playboy spy intent on helping our heroes succeed. Now, don’t get me wrong, the mere introduction of these side characters has me craving more of their stories almost as badly as I crave hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night. My interest has been piqued so much I can’t decide who I want to have their own novel first! Nevertheless, it was still a kind of character overload that would make me miss the focus on our lead couple for a time. By the second half of the novel we have a clearer understanding of how all the characters fit together, and Esme and Tor’s romance really picks up steam to a point where their chemistry can’t help but take center stage. It’s just that first half which felt somewhat discombobulated as we jumped from character to character. 

The Runner and the Virgin

I have fallen in love with every couple in this series, and Esme and Tor are near the top of the list when it comes to two characters who simply feel right with each other. We’re dealing with a friends-to-lovers scenario, which is always one of my favorite tropes. They made perfect sense as a couple, and yet their road from friendship to an intimate relationship was not a straightforward one. Esme has a complicated past which makes her hesitant to form deep emotional attachments with others due to the fear that her evil father will kill them. Enter Tor. He is her equal in every way, and will do everything in his power to support her vision for peace. He also happens to be a virgin, and the incorporation of this element into the overall plot of the novel was absolute perfection. It added a layer of complexity to their connection, but it also wasn’t the defining feature of their relationship. Tor has been saving himself for a woman important enough to want to share that moment with, and practically upon first meeting Esme he knows that she’s the one. 

When he learns more about her complicated background of running, Tor knows with absolutely certainty that the reveal of his virginity will make Esme want to flee. And it does. Not because she thinks there’s too much pressure over the idea of being his first, but rather because she knows it will establish yet another emotional bond between them that will make it even harder for her to run away after the deed is done. When they do finally come together in a physical sense, amidst all of the complications and drama going on in their lives, they still manage to find laughter and joy with each other. It’s a talented author indeed who can successfully bring laughter into the bedroom without it feeling awkward or forced, but Rebecca Hefner managed to show us two friends celebrating life in the midst of their intimacy, and it’s a glorious sight to behold. 

The Formidable Foe

When the ether fell between the immortal world and the human realm, Esme was determined to ensure a smooth integration of the species, yet from opening bell she understood that she probably wouldn’t be able to see the entire project through to completion. For centuries, Esme has been on the run from her powerful Elf father, Dakath. He has a determination of his own, but rather than the honorable mission his daughter fights for, Dakath will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the Elven bloodline remains pure. Even if that means killing any Elf-human hybrids he comes across. Even if it means his own daughter is a hybrid, and he’s intent on extending her torture by killing anyone with whom she forms an emotional attachment. This is why Esme knows her time with the integration team is limited, and even though her heart is pulling her towards Tor, her brain is telling her she has to flee to keep him and the rest of their team safe. 

Tor acts as the perfect partner by not always insisting or demanding that she stay with him. He shows Esme that sometimes it’s more important to live in the moment while they still have time with each other, rather than always look for the tipping point which will force her to leave. And while that tipping point does eventually rise up, their journey has made her realize that she’s no longer alone. Esme can finally face her father with other people standing alongside her. They’re so much stronger together than she could ever be running off on her own, and for the first time in centuries she has hope. Dakath is certainly a formidable foe who won’t go down easy, and I have a feeling he might even strike down a few more we’ll come to know and love in his destructive path towards what he deems as purity. However, it will be quite the thrill to see how this badass team of warriors turned family will stand up against him every step of the way. Game on. 

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 7. I’d recommend reading the series in order. We are presented with two teases in this book. One is a glimpse of what’s in store for book 8, which I need to have in my hands, like, yesterday. The other was a teasing mention that only the most die-hard fans of this writer would recognize, which was the oh-so-casual name drop of the town of Ardor Creek. To say that my mouth dropped open in an exclamation of, “oh no she didn’t!!” would be the understatement of the year.

Would I befriend the heroine? I have a feeling our mutual tendency for quips and Chandler Bing-like sarcastic comments would mesh together quite well. 

Do I crave the hero? I gotta say, this is one male lead I’d probably have to kick out of bed. But only because he snores like a freight train. Would I first drag him into bed before kicking him out of it? Absolutely. 

Final Impressions: The new generation of immortals have firmly established themselves in this series, and proven that they are just as engaging as the OG’s who came before. This series is a plethora of lovable characters, and while we may have been introduced to a few too many new ones all at once in this seventh book, it’s undeniable that each and every one will play a crucial role in how this drama unfolds over the next few novels. I’m excited by this new villain, whose twisted motivations put him toe-to-toe with Crimeous in the malicious category. Esme and Tor are everything you could ever want in a lead couple, and in a pair of leaders. The heart of this series will always show us that while the road to good triumphing over evil might be an arduous one, it’s also attainable when surrounded by friends and family who will have your back around every dark corner.  

Smut Level: There are definitely some graphic and descriptive scenes, but on the whole I would say their sexual relationship is quite tame, all things considered. Tor and Esme certainly desire each other, but they sort of ease their way into things because of Tor’s virginity. He’s definitely an eager student though, just as Esme is a dedicated teacher. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 316 Pages. 

Untamed Delights by Suzanne Wright

Dominic has a cheeky pick-up line for every scenario. When he first sets his sights upon Mila, he’s struck with speechlessness one minute, and inspired to produce some of his best material the next. 

What’s it About? 

Return to the sensual and feral stirrings of the Phoenix Pack as a woman who’s already bound to one man is tempted by a wolf who’s bound only to his nightly desires.

Cat shifter Mila Devereaux can’t help but see it as a betrayal. That her one true mate imprinted himself on another female was hard enough to accept. Struggling to be at peace with her loveless fate, she doesn’t fight the suggestion of entering an arranged mating. Then she meets Dominic, a pack enforcer with a notorious reputation. It’s in his very scent. This irresistible playboy—and delicious badass wolf—is making Mila’s fantasies come alive again.

Alarming, compelling, and heady with sensual energy, Dominic is an expert at making women shed their inhibitions. Now everything about him—his killer smile, his perfectly sculpted body, and his smooth-as-honey voice—is drawing in a captivating new catch. But for the first time in his life, Dominic is feeling more than a fling. He finds himself tantalized by a female who makes him think of forever. He wants all of Mila and won’t be satisfied until he has it.

As the passion grows wild, so does the risk. They’re falling in love in the shadows and secrets of their pasts. And it’s threatening to destroy everything Mila and Dominic are fighting for. And are destined for.

First Impressions

Alas, the time has come for the sun to set on our beloved Phoenix Pack shifter series. We’ve been through a lot with these surly wolves and their lady loves, and Suzanne Wright doesn’t disappoint by saving one of the most entertaining characters for last. Dominic is a ladies man through and through, and has regaled us with ridiculously cringe-worthy yet comical pick-up lines since the beginning. It’s to be expected that there would be a bit of humor built into his eventual tale of romance, and while that is certainly true for a good portion of the novel, it was delightfully surprising to see the hidden serious side of this heretofore jovial character. This is an aspect I’ve appreciated for so many of the heroes and heroines we’ve been presented with throughout this series. There’s always another angle to their personality which prevents them from simply being one dimensional.

We discover a layer of emotional turmoil to Dominic’s past, borne from abandonment by his parents who always treated him as a stand-in for his deceased brother. He’s presented an easy-going façade to the world as a way to shield anyone from getting to close to him for fear that they will eventually leave him, just as his parents did all those years ago. Mila is the first woman who has ever tempted Dominic to get close and share the side of him he’s kept hidden away even from his pack mates. What begins as mere physical attraction between two commitment-avoidant characters slowly evolves into something more as Mila’s life is repeatedly threatened throughout the course of the novel. With every new near-death experience they become cognizant of how irreparably damaged their lives would be without the other one in it anymore.

Fated Mates?

Everyone familiar with this series will undoubtedly have seen reference to “the formula” at some point. Seemingly in every book we are presented with two badass characters, one a surly alpha wolf who falls for the strong female lead. They usually encounter drama on two fronts, one from the shifter side of things, and the other dealing with more of a personal aspect tied to some event from their past. Throw in some steamy sex, and a belated realization that they’re actually true mates, and you’ve got yourself “the formula”. Personally, I love the formula. I know what I’m getting into it, it’s usually an entertaining ride, each character still manages to have a distinctive personality, and every dramatic story line has its own twists and turns which successfully set it apart from the previous installments. Case in point, while almost every book in the series has highlighted the important connection between fated mates, this final book presents us with lead characters who aren’t actually true mates.

Mila knows who her true mate is, but he has already chosen to imprint with another woman, and is therefore blinded to the true nature of his connection with Mila. Dominic has never been eager to locate his true mate, and upon meeting Mila she is determined to leave the country to avoid hers. So, why not spend some time getting to know each other in the bedroom? However, when an unknown enemy takes out a hit on Mila’s life, the repeated attempts to kills her throw Mila and Dominic together in a way where they realize how much they mean to each other. They might not be true mates in the sense that destiny has fated them to spend eternity together, but rather they ultimately choose to make that visceral connection by imprinting. In a way, their choice in the matter makes it all the more special. 

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 8. While I’m sad to see this series end, I do think it was a good time to bring a close to our pack of Phoenix shifters, and it was ultimately a strong conclusion. 

Final Impressions: I really enjoyed Mila and Dominic’s story. He was a seductive playboy, and she was never afraid to call him on his BS. The fact they weren’t fated mates, and that Mila’s true mate was someone she still interacted with on a regular basis made her and Dominic’s romance all the more compelling. Upon first finishing the book I was a tad disappointed with the several attacks throughout the story by random hit men who were trying to collect a bounty placed on Mila’s head. It seemed unnecessarily repetitive, and the fact a healer was always nearby meant that we could never be truly immersed in the feeling that her life were truly at stake. That being said, after letting it ruminate for a day or two I recognized that her constant brushes with death acted as the necessary trigger for Dominic’s realization of her importance in his life.

Smut Level: Dominic’s cheesy one-liners don’t stop upon finally getting Mila on her back in his bed…they just get even more sultry. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 385 Pages. 

Wild Hunger by Suzanne Wright

They haven’t seen each other since they were children, but one look as adults is all it takes for Trick to realize that Frankie is his destined mate.

What’s it About? 

When half–wolf shifter Frankie Newman receives an e-mail from a family member she didn’t know existed, a secret is revealed: as a child, Frankie witnessed her father killing her mother…and then himself. Frankie was torn from her pack by her mother’s human relatives, and the trauma was erased from her memory. Realizing that she’s been lied to her entire life, she’s never felt more alone. Until she catches the scent of an old friend—warmly familiar and intoxicating.

Trick Hardy, enforcer of the Phoenix Pack, can sense the rush of mutual attraction when he sees Frankie again. He knows immediately that she’s his true mate. But he also knows that, given her fragile state, he needs to tread with care—no matter how fierce his surging desires.

As aroused as Frankie is by Trick’s darkly dominant air and simmering desire, her priority right now is her past—not her future, no matter how tempting. But as more secrets emerge and Frankie’s life is threatened, Trick must do everything he can to keep her close and safe. After all, it’s their destiny.

First Impressions

We’ve been introduced to a slew of different couples throughout this series so far, and while each has traversed their own unique path to discovering that they are destined mates, one shared component is that it usually takes a decent portion of the book before our lead characters uncover the mating link drawing them together. Whether it be because they’re too busy fighting off a common enemy, one of them insists true mates aren’t real, or perhaps one mistakenly thought they’d already found and lost their mate years before, there’s something which has caused our characters to put up a mental block against recognizing the person they’ve come to desire is meant to be theirs for the rest of time. A refreshing element which sets this seventh book apart from any of the installments which have come before is the fact that Trick identifies Frankie as his true mate almost immediately upon first setting his sights on her after many years apart. As for Frankie, her realization of their fantastical connection is just a few short weeks behind Trick’s.

Neither of them tries to deny the truth from themselves or each other. The only thing preventing them from taking that final step to cement the link is that Trick acknowledges Frankie is already dealing with enough in her personal life, from finding out her grandparents lied about how her parents perished when she was just a young girl, to the fact they also hid the fact she has loving wolf family members out there who would want nothing more than to bring her into the fold of their pack. Trick has been hoping for years that he would find his destined mate, yet when she’s finally standing right in front of him he realizes she needs time to heal and reconnect with family first. Finalizing their connection can wait, and he thinks it will be a good idea for them to spend time getting to know each other first before taking that big step. Considering all we know about how strong that mating pull can be, it’s probably one of the more beautiful expressions of caring we’ve seen so far in this series. 

Sexuality

Another interesting aspect of our couple’s relationship was the history of Trick’s sexuality. We’ve seen in previous novels that Trick has been sexually involved with men, at one point even with one of his fellow packmates. It’s something that Trick reveals to Frankie fairly early on after they start having a physical relationship, primarily so that she won’t be blindsided should any troublesome characters try to use it as a way to push a wedge between these two destined mates. Frankie isn’t bothered by his admission, but she does experience a brief moment of hesitation wondering if there will ever come a time when he might desire something physically that she won’t be able to give him. He squashes any of her concerns by insisting that she’s the one he’s been waiting for all this time, and there wasn’t a romantic component to any of his previous partners, whether they were men or women.

I do wish we could have gone a bit deeper into discussing Trick’s sexuality beyond just describing his previous interactions with men as “scratching an itch”. It seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity to finally highlight a non-heterosexual male lead in more detail within this series. In terms of his exes, you also can’t help but wonder if the mere presence of Trick causes others to lose their minds with obsessive infatuation. Whether it was a woman from his past who repeatedly insisted that he was her destined mate, to a former male sexual partner who asserts that Trick is actually gay and therefore it’s impossible Frankie could be his true mate as a female. Frankie never doubts that Trick will be true to her, and it was nice to see there wasn’t a single moment where she questioned if he might leave her for someone else, but if I were Frankie I might be concerned over how many other unstable exes might be making their way out of the woodwork!

Drama on Two Fronts

As with most books in this series, our couple is faced with dramatic elements emanating from two separate fronts. One impacts the pack as a whole, where a rival wolf and his ragtag pack insist on claiming Phoenix pack territory. They approach the Phoenixes under the guise of wanting to form an alliance, but they can all recognize a scheming enemy when they see one. The villainous Morelli lurks in the background through most of the novel, but will pop up every now and again before instigating a final climactic battle at the most inopportune of moments. The fight with this rival pack is just a smaller piece of the larger war that Morelli is trying to start between wolves and humans, as extremists on both sides are shockingly coming together in the hopes of bringing down all of their enemies so they can finally rule over whoever is left standing. As we progress through the series we’ve seen these extremists become more daring in their efforts, and we can’t help but wonder if the final installment will finally bring about this aforementioned war, or crush it down once and for all. 

The more emotional dramatic plot point of this novel involves Frankie’s parents who died when she was just three years old, and the story that all have come to believe of their deaths is that Frankie’s father brutally murdered her mother before dying by suicide. Frankie’s grandparents kept these gruesome details from her, and upon learning the truth from some of her other long lost family members, we see her embark on a tragically compelling journey of confronting the details of this unfortunate tragedy. While this emotional exploration was certainly fascinating, especially as we see how uber alpha Trick can soften his surly demeanor to comfort Frankie when it matters most, this story was rather disappointing in the plot twist it tries to surprise upon us towards the end of the book. Not only is it crystal clear to us as readers that something else must have happened the night these untimely deaths occurred, but it’s kind of shocking that it wasn’t obvious to the rest of the pack back when it first happened. They can all acknowledge that it was unbelievably out of character for Frankie’s father to cause harm to his wife, but it’s also essentially unheard of for a wolf to harm their true mate. So…why would they have readily accepted this inexplicable explanation? The fact they never questioned that someone else could have been involved is quite ridiculous. Also, these are wolf shifters we’re dealing with here! How did none of them smell the remnants of another person in the house that night?! Simply preposterous!!

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 7. We only have just one more packmate to explore next in what will be the final book of this series. And Dominic just so happens to be the most flirtatious wolf of the pack. Can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Final Impressions: This was an exciting addition to the series. In glancing through some of the other reviews of this novel, it appears a common criticism amongst some readers is that the author continues to follow a clear formula for each installment where you always know what to expect. Honestly, fair assessment! Alpha male meets sassy female, physical desire and multiple horizontal mambo sessions ensue, drama threatens, they ultimately discover and cement the mating bond, final climactic battle, sexy fun times. And you know what, I love it! There might be a formula, but I’ve never felt as though we see the same couple, or even story, on repeat each time. We see so many unique personalities, and everyone has their own history which sets them apart from those who may have come before. If anything, I find that formula comforting rather than boring. I know what I’m getting into, that it’s going to be an entertaining and sexually-filled ride, and each character will bring something new to the table.

Smut Level: How these two didn’t pass out from exhaustion considering all the delicious deeds they got up to in a hot tub is mind-blowing. Also, as with almost every other book in this series so far, we do get some description of anal sex. Something to keep in mind for those of you who are or aren’t fans of that act!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 322 Pages.

The Liar’s Crown by Abigail Owen

Meren has lived her entire life in the shadow of her twin sister, waiting for the moment when she might need to step in front of danger to sacrifice herself. Now the shadows have come for her, and she must sacrifice everything she thought she understood about the world around her. Buckle up folks, you’re in for quite the ride. 

What’s it About? 

Everything about my life is a lie. As a hidden twin princess, born second, I have only one purpose—to sacrifice my life for my sister if death comes for her. I’ve been living under the guise of a poor, obscure girl of no standing, slipping into the palace and into the role of the true princess when danger is present.

Now the queen is dead and the ageless King Eidolon has sent my sister a gift—an eerily familiar gift—and a proposal to wed. I don’t trust him, so I do what I was born to do and secretly take her place on the eve of the coronation. Which is why, when a figure made of shadow kidnaps the new queen, he gets me by mistake.

As I try to escape, all the lies start to unravel. And not just my lies. The Shadowraith who took me has secrets of his own. He struggles to contain the shadows he wields—other faces, identities that threaten my very life.

Winter is at the walls. Darkness is looming. And the only way to save my sister and our dominion is to kill Eidolon…and the Shadowraith who has stolen my heart.

First Impressions

In a word, this teen fantasy romance is simply mind-blowing. I have been a long-time fan of Abigail Owen’s adult dragon romance series, so I was excited to step into another world with her. I’ll admit I had a few hesitations in the beginning, wondering if this young adult novel would skew too young for me, or if the evocative cover art would potentially hold too much promise of what would lie within. I’m happy to say I was proven wrong on both accounts. Readers of all ages can appreciate this story, and the dramatic juxtaposition of flowers against skull on the cover simply hints at the wondrous magic in which you’re about to find yourself entranced. Ms. Owen is a master world-builder, and it’s hard to articulate just how refreshing it was to be immersed in a fantastical land unlike any I’ve ever come across before. 

From the powers of our characters, to the monsters of the various landscapes they traverse, everything was a constant surprise from one page to the next. As the novel progressed I couldn’t help but feel as though I had entered somebody’s dream world where fantasy and nightmare blend together to create something entirely unique. The rules of this world aren’t terribly difficult to understand, but in hindsight I wish I had paid a bit more attention at the beginning when the details were first being discussed. We’re provided with something of an info dump early on in the book, so something I’d recommend is maybe jotting down a few notes for reference later so you fully understand the differences between things like Vexillium, Imperium, hyloraes, enfernaes, etc. Some fantastical elements were explained more fully than others, and I get the sense we’ve been teased with the mention of some things we might not see until later on. 

Shadow and Glass

Meren is the standout lead character of our novel. A second-born twin princess whose identity has been hidden from the world, save for a chosen few who can be trusted, she’s expected to stand in for her sister whenever the possibility of danger arises. It’s on the eve of her sister Tabra’s coronation as Queen when a man composed of shadows mistakenly kidnaps Meren, thinking she’s the highborn princess whose powers can change the fate of their world. The dynamic between Meren and this Shadowraith was electric, with an obvious animosity towards each other slowly developing to respect, and ultimately something even more powerful. While she might be totally out of her element by being kidnapped across lands unknown to her, Meren isn’t afraid to stand up against him. She refuses to go down quietly, and the frustrations evoked by both her and the Shadowraith when they repeatedly throw verbal barbs at each other was positively delicious. It was the perfect blend of comedy, fearlessness, foreplay and even emotional vulnerability. Their combined presence on the page quickly became the foundation of the story going forward, and you never wanted to see the two of them apart. 

Perhaps the most enigmatic feature of the book was witnessing Meren come into her own by stepping out of the shadows she was forced to hide behind. She’s always been something of a rebel. When she was told to never use her powers, Meren would often sneak away to practice transforming sand into glass. Ordered to live hidden away in a small house, she found ways to escape into the wide-open vastness of the desert. And yet, these few instances of rebellion were hidden from her keepers, and she’d always walked the line set before her. It was never out of subservience, but rather out of true love and protection for her sister that she continued to do what was expected. When the Shadowraith takes her away from all she’s known, Meren is rightfully pissed, but in a way it also allows her to finally explore what it means to be her own person. As the Shadowraith shows her how a fight against evil is forming in the distance, Meren once again steps up to protect those she loves. Whereas before she played the role of delicate princess to save her sister, she now realizes she’ll need to up her game by becoming a badass in her own right. Wielding her power over sand to create pretty glass flowers has now evolved into forming waves of glass spears in battle. She no longer blindly listens to the orders others bestow upon her, but rather she becomes part of the conversation to try and find a solution in saving their world against a power-hungry evil King. As her distance from the palace grows, Meren more fully transforms from a girl into a woman, and it’s quite the captivating journey.  

Butterflies at First Sight

In perusing a few other reviews of this work online, an unexpectedly common theme is a few readers mentioning they felt that Meren and the Shadowraith fell for each other too quickly, and that it was a love at first sight scenario. I suppose I can’t 100% agree with this assessment. Meren is clearly confused about how she feels towards this stranger. On the one hand, there is a clear presence of animosity following his kidnapping of her, and he has several instances of eye-roll happening at her consistent back-talk. And yet, Meren can clearly see something good within him that slowly causes her to lower her defenses the more time they spend together. If anything, I would say it was a slow burn rather than a situation of love at first sight. Meren certainly feels an attraction at first sight of the Shadowraith’s distinctively dashing profile in the darkened streets of her hometown, and she’s not sure how to act in front of someone who makes the butterflies take flight within her. However, there also appears to be some other kind of connection simmering between them that I think has only just been teased to us in this first novel. There’s something drawing these two together, and it extends beyond simple attraction or even love, but perhaps there is a fantastical element at play here too. I certainly can’t wait to find out more about what it might be. 

This novel also presents us with the formation of a mini unrequited love triangle. The relationship between Meren and her Shadowraith takes front and center, but we also see instances of Meren’s only childhood friend, Cain, wanting to express intimacy with this unknown princess. I will say this was the only feature of the book which reminded me of another series, as it felt very reminiscent of the love triangle present in the Hunger Games series. Similar to how the heroine of that series always viewed her longtime male friend as something of a brother, Meren too has looked to Cain with brotherly affection that is a special kind of love all it’s own. There may have once been a time when the concept of a future with Cain seemed like a great prospect, but it’s only upon meeting the Shadowraith that she realizes how much more there is to feel towards a potential partner. I’m typically not a fan of love triangles, and thankfully this feature wasn’t a primary focus of the novel. However, we definitely see the hostility level growing between Cain and the man of shadows, and I have a feeling this conflict could possibly become a more prominent discussion point for the next book. That being said, these characters certainly have a few more life-and-death priorities to deal with, including a power hungry king with his focus on the crown, so hopefully they choose to focus their energy on resolving those matters first!

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

Series: Dominions, book 1. This is book one in a three part series. I hope for book two the author will either provide us with a thorough recap of the fantastical dynamics we were presented with in this novel, or maybe even a glossary of important terms we can reference to re-acclimate ourselves to this world. 

Final Impressions: Sometimes the first book in a series is so good you can’t wait to get started on book two. Then there are the premier books that are so fantastically amazing you’re almost angry you don’t have the next book in front of you right now! The Liar’s Crown definitely falls within the latter category. This novel sort of ends on a smidge of a cliffhanger, but the epilogue gives enough of a solid stopping point where you don’t literally feel like you’re dangling off a cliff. Instead you’re just eager to see what our characters will get up to next. It’s very important to know going into this read that this is the start of a series, a fact I didn’t remember when I started. Meren and the Shadowraith take up the majority of the plot focus, so I was initially disappointed that we didn’t see more scenes involving her sister or the evil king. Abigail Owen has always succeeded in creating a dubious villain you hate to hate, and I sort of felt like I was missing out in this one. Now that I know there’s two more books to come, and considering how this first one ended I realize the author was simply laying the groundwork for us to dive deeper into this world of characters going forward.

Smut Level: This is a slow burn of tempting glances, slight brushes against each other, a stolen kiss here and there, and a few instances of intense panting. All of these delicious moments of will-they-won’t-they ultimately intensify into one steamy scene that isn’t too explicit in detail, but it provides enough satisfying description for this first kind of intimate moment between our characters. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $7.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Teen Publishing. 448 Pages. 

Immortal Beginnings by Rebecca Hefner

What’s better than a paranormal romance featuring a virginal male hero who finds his happily ever after with the love of his immortal life? 

What’s it About?

Can a Deamon who has never felt a lover’s touch win the affection of a beautiful but wary Vampyre widow?

Strong and stoic Dragos yearns to build an honest life after the War of the Species ends. Due to his servitude to the Dark Lord Crimeous, he never had the opportunity to experience love or true emotion.

Vampyre widow Raina promised she’d never love another. Yet, she’s taken with her handsome, enigmatic new neighbor and his kindness to her two sons.

When Raina realizes Dragos has never had a lover, she gives in to their mutual passion, never realizing she might also lose her heart to the man who somehow invaded every crevice of her soul…

First Impressions

When I found out one of my absolute favorite authors had written a novella for the Etherya’s Earth series I simply had three words to say: sign…me…up! That, and a lot of incessant squealing and hand flapping in excitement. For those of you who are also a fan of the Etherya’s Earth paranormal series, you won’t want to miss this beautiful short story, Immortal Beginnings. While it doesn’t feature any of the primary characters from the series we’ve come to know and love, you’ll quickly become enamored with the romance between deamon Dragos and vampyre Raina. You’ll have no problem finishing this novella in one sitting, and yet there is so much story to unpack between these two characters. Fangs down, of all the short stories featured in the Etherya’ Earth series so far, this was undoubtedly my favorite. I can only hope we’ll get a glimpse of this couple again in a future full-length novel.

Letting Go of the Past

Yes, this novella does feature a virginal male hero which I was fully on board for, but beyond this amazing trope of a more experienced female lead guiding her man in the ways of pleasure, we were also presented with two complex characters who are trying to find their way in a new world unlike anything they’ve known before. Etherya’s Earth has been plagued by war for centuries, but its inhabitants are finally living in a time of peace, when vampyres, deamons and slayers can coexist rather than fight against each other. This is the setting upon which our novella opens, as deamon Dragos is trying to live a “normal” life away from the world of deamon caves and constant fighting which he’s only known up until this point. As for Raina, she is now a single mother trying to adapt to life following the death of her “bonded” in the final battle against the evil deamon Crimeous. These two unlikely neighbors are able to push aside their troubled pasts to find happiness and pleasure with each other in the present, and the promising hope of something even more permanent going forward.

Upon first reading this novella, I was so worried we’d ultimately discover that Dragos was responsible for killing Raina’s husband in battle, but thankfully we focus instead on what it means for these two to explore a relationship together at this particular point in their lives. For Dragos, he has only known the horrors of war. At one point in the story, Raina offers to bring him salve for a burn on his arm, and he reveals that it is the first time he’s been voluntarily touched by another in all of his centuries on this Earth. The glimpses of vulnerability we witness for this weathered soldier are almost enough to bring a tear to your eye, as you realize that beneath the tough exterior lies a man who simply craves the soft touch of another. He has craved Raina since she first moved in next door, and when she finally offers herself to him, he can’t help but fall hard and fast for this loving woman and caring mother.

For Raina, she initially worries that Dragos will feel more for her than she could ever reciprocate, especially considering she’s the one to touch and physically please him for the first time ever. Even though a letter from her belated husband clearly states he hopes she can move on to find happiness with another during her immortal life, she can’t help but keep a part of herself back from Dragos in a foolhardy attempt to prevent herself from falling for this deamon. Dragos is willing to accept any part of her she’s willing to give, but can Raina acknowledge that there’s room in her heart for both Dragos and her former bonded? Giving her heart to this man doesn’t mean she’s replacing the memory of her husband. She’s allowing herself the opportunity to move on and make new memories that can co-exist with, rather than take over, those of the man she loved before. Again, there’s definitely a lot of emotional baggage to unpack in such a short novella!

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 4.5. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it here for posterity: I will read anything and everything this author ever releases.

Final Impressions: Loved it, adored it, consider myself officially smitten. It’s not simply the tale of a male losing his v-card, but also an observation of how two people can put aside their traumatic pasts, and convince themselves they are worthy of love. How it’s possible to open up one’s heart again after having found and lost true love before. We not only fall in love with Dragos and Raina, but also Raina’s two adorable sons, Galen and Ekon. There is so much to love about this novella, and I’m excited to see what else this anthology has in store!

Smut Level: The first time this series presented us with a deamon falling for a vampyre we were privy to the most alpha of males who was well-versed in the ways of pleasure. This time around, Dragos might not have the experience, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a quick study in the ways of pleasure, or dirty talk for that matter. As a former soldier, he is more than capable of following all the sultry orders that Raina has to give in the bedroom.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 154 Pages.

Brewer by Skye McNeil

They come from two seemingly different worlds: she a chef and he the member of a small town MC. But one person from each of their pasts will bring them together in a way they never saw coming. 

What’s it About? 

Out for blood and justice, Brewer Stapleton is on the hunt for Macha MC’s traitor, Shovelhead, the man who also murdered his parents. Nothing will keep him from his mission, not even the woman who unexpectedly brings him to his knees.

Raised to fear motorcycle clubs, Delphi Windsor is content running her bistro. When she meets the man who runs Macha’s bar, on a fun night out, their chemistry is instant. But Delphi uncovers a secret. One that brings her closer to Macha MC than she ever thought possible.

With Brewer focused on revenge and Delphi intent on uncovering the truth, it’s unlikely everyone will survive the fallout.

First Impressions

From opening bell it was clear that the connection simmering between bartender biker Brewer Stapleton and hot shot chef Delphi Windsor was going to be electric. It’s a case of lust at first sight, and Brewer knows he wants the gorgeous beauty standing in his bar. Never to back down from what he wants, he doesn’t hesitate to lay the flirtatious banter on thick, and headstrong Delphi has no problem standing up to him to tease and dish it right back before turning him down. From that point on you knew you were in for a delightful game of cat and mouse, and I for one couldn’t wait for the game to begin. Their desire and attraction for each other is intense, but so is Delphi’s hesitancy to get involved with someone in a motorcycle club. She has a complicated history with an ex who was part of a rival club, as well as the fact that her parents tried everything in their power to warn her away from the troublesome MCs before they both unexpectedly passed away. Brewer can recognize that Delphi is an outsider to this world, and tries his best to keep his distance even though everything in his being is calling for him to not only watch over her, but to claim her as his. 

A standout feature of this series so far is that we’re constantly presented with a badass female lead character. In this fourth installment we see that even though Brewer never backs down from being vocal about everything he craves to do with Delphi, ultimately it is her call for when they’ll finally cross that line to stripping off their clothes and going at each other like bunny rabbits. Which they do plenty of, believe you me. Aside from the outspoken ladies, another hallmark feature of this series is the fact we have a plethora of sexy, surly, alpha men who are uber-protective over their women. This is something that can be fairly standard in MC romances, but something I believe the author does a fantastic job of in each book is demonstrating how these men aren’t just going into protector mode because someone else is threatening to take away their possession, and it’s not because they view their women as weak or fragile crystals that can be easily broken. Instead Ms. McNeil paints us a picture of this strong group of men who have fallen so completely head over heels in love that these women have become the most precious and important thing in their entire lives, even stronger than the brotherhood they’ve formed amongst themselves. It’s true Brewer doesn’t want to see any harm come to Delphi herself, but I think the author has created this unbreakable link between the two characters that for him to see her hurt would also cause him an unbearable pain unlike any other he’s experienced before. Her pain would be his pain, and so he’ll do anything to preserve the bond between them. Even if it means possibly giving up on the revenge he’s sought for years to bring his parent’s killer to justice. 

The Betrayer

The identity of Shovelhead as Delphi’s possible father, while simultaneously being the man who gunned down Brewer’s parents definitely threw a curveball into their quickly evolving relationship. Brewer and his sister have both vowed to bring this man to justice, yet Delphi also wants a chance to confront and possibly even get to know the man she never knew was her biological father. Though an interesting form of conflict, it never felt as though it was incorporated as fully into Brewer and Delphi’s story as it should have been to really pose a threat to their connection. After all, Delphi lived her entire life thinking another man was her father, and it wasn’t until this other man lay dying on his deathbed that he admitted the fact someone else could be her real father. Then upon meeting Brewer she quickly learns more about the endless instances of deceit caused to the Macha MC at the hands of Shovelhead, including the murder of Brewer’s parents.

It just seemed surprising that she would still have a desire to build a relationship with this man she’s never met, a man who either abandoned or possibly raped her mother, who she now knows is a criminal and murderer, and that this desire to meet him could cause the downfall of her relationship with Brewer. Especially considering we know that Macha is an MC of integrity, and while every member of the club wants the chance to draw blood from Shovelhead, there’s no question that they would hand him over to the authorities before they’d ever risk killing him. I guess I never fully understood why there was this growing tension between Delphi and Brewer where Shovelhead was concerned. Perhaps if she had already established some kind of relationship with Shovelhead before discovering the true breadth of his crimes, or if Brewer was insisting that justice would result in Shovelhead’s death, the conflict between our two lovebirds would have made a bit more sense.

Beach Read Suspense

This is sort of the ideal beach read in that you get the perfect mix of romance and steam, with a little sprinkling of suspense mixed in as well. Now, I will say that while the dramatic side of the plot was intriguing, it probably could have been amped up another couple notches to really get the juices flowing. After all, this MC has been tracking the duplicitous traitor from their brotherhood for quite some time. He has betrayed and killed their own, including shooting down Brewer’s parents in cold blood, and the time has come for them to put the pedal to the metal and finally end his reign of terror. And yet…I couldn’t help but feel that everything came together almost too easily and uneventfully considering the amount of build-up we’ve been seeing across the series. This is true not only in how the matter of the traitor is concluded, but also during the most climactic scene of the novel wherein Delphi has been kidnapped by a rival MC. We’re basically told that she is rescued, and then the subsequent chapter goes back in time a bit to show how everything came together to rescue her, almost as a way of saying, “Don’t get too nervous, everything works out, remember?” That’s not to say that these scenes aren’t interesting, as they are successful in holding our interest,  but it didn’t really keep me on the edge of my seat like it could have. 

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

Series: Macha MC, book 4. I’ve only read books three and four in this series, and I must say now that I’m done I really want to go back and start from the beginning. While it’s possible to follow along with the characters and events having missed the first two books, I do think I could have had an even deeper appreciation and understanding of this world if I’d read the whole series from start to finish. Definitely something I’d recommend to all of you! 

Final Impressions: I’ll admit I’m not always a fan of MC romances. They can be dark, gritty, and I can’t help but feel that 9 times out of 10 the main characters are just covered in a grimy sheen of sweat…mixed with leather. This series is so different in the most fantabulous of ways. Yes, there are still bikes, leather cuts and standoffs with rival gangs, but the sense of brotherhood which this series evokes is quite beautiful. There’s camaraderie and love shared between these men, and while the club still has a group of sexy “nymphs” at their beck and call for sexy fun times, there’s still an underlying respect of women which doesn’t always seem to permeate the MC world of other romances. The fact this novel ends with the discussion of women finally being let into leadership roles in the club demonstrates the changing tide as new blood steps up to the forefront. Do I think the scenes of conflict could have been heightened a bit to truly amplify the suspense? Sure, but I can also appreciate not wanting to sweat things out too much in anticipation during a beach read, and the scenes depicting Delphi and Brewer’s evolving love affair stole the show anyways. Overall, a fun and entertaining read, a good series, and plenty of descriptive sex scenes to keep you satisfied. 

Smut Level: If flirtatious banter isn’t enough to get you to want to pick up this steamy read, then how about the fact that Delphi and Brewer’s first time together is in a tattoo shop chair? 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Hot Tree Publishing. 274 Pages. 

Fierce Obsessions by Suzanne Wright

He can’t stand her wisecracks and pomposity. She’s infuriated by his ego and skepticism. Sounds like a match made in mate shifter Heaven! 

What’s it About? 

When raven shifter Riley Porter was given sanctuary by the Phoenix Pack, she let them believe she had left her flock. Reluctant to divulge the secrets of her past, she was still embraced as family. Only Tao Lukas, the protective and passionate Head Enforcer of the pack, was resistant to the enigmatic shifter. Until Riley started to arouse in him something other than suspicion…

Tao doesn’t trust lone shifters, especially ones so guarded – and tempting. But the sexual tension between them is making them both come undone, and vulnerable to more than desire. All Tao wants is for Riley to stay with him and to trust him with the truth of her past…

As Riley’s mysteries come to light, so does a danger that threatens not only her life but the safety of the entire pack. For Tao, keeping Riley safe means keeping her close – forever – as his mate!

First Impressions

It’s been a few years since I last engaged with this series, and soon after starting this sixth book I quickly remembered how freakin’ fantabulous it is! If you’re a fan of shape-shifters, alpha wolf males and sassily resilient female leads, you definitely don’t want to miss out on everything this author and series has to offer. I may not have entered this world for some time now, but it simply took one step before I was thrust back into this close pack of characters with unique personalities and dynamics all their own. Riley and Tao certainly have a chemistry and connection which sets them apart from every couple which has come before, and their witty banter back-and-forth is the most delicious kind of foreplay. It’s expected for alpha male characters in romances like this to be the kings of one-liners, and while Tao can hold his own with the best of them, Riley has a piercing repartee that sets her far and above the rest. 

I relished the fact that this novel presented us with not only a dominant male, but also a dominant female who could dish back everything Tao was serving up. There’s a humor to their exchanges which manages to keep everything light-hearted in the face of some rather pointed remarks, and it’s clear that the more “insults” they hurl at each other, the more likely it becomes that Tao will soon be pushing Riley up against a wall, gripping her raven locks in a passionate embrace. It’s also clear that certain characteristics of their animal forms shine forth in their personalities. Tao is all kinds of growly and surly, but just like his wolf he has a stealthy and protective soft-side that you don’t expect to see upon first meeting. Riley might seem small and unassuming, similar to her inner-Raven, but that doesn’t mean she’s weak. Far from it, she’s a quick-witted trickster who can clearly take care of herself, and will stand up in the face of danger to protect not only herself, but those closest to her. Bringing these two passionate, over-protective and dominant characters together guaranteed that sparks would fly, and my Kindle was near set alight by the chemistry emitting from Riley and Tao. 

Fleeing the Flock

While the connection between main characters, as well as sexy fun times, have always been a strong hallmark of each book in the series so far, one detail which has had a tendency to fall short in previous novels was the dramatic plot point. This conflict would often involve human extremists who would turn to violence in their hatred of shifters, but it was typically pushed aside to simmer in the background for the full-breadth of the novel until one final climactic battle scene. Not terrible, but just not always brought to the forefront in a compelling way. This installment of the series brought not just one, but two gripping dramatic plot points front and center, and wove them together in a way that constantly had you questioning where the next attack would come from. On the one hand, we have a human criminal mob boss who is seeking out the healer of the Phoenix Pack to rehabilitate his dying brother, something which the healer wouldn’t be able to do without resulting in her own death. Let’s just say that the word “no” isn’t one that a somewhat psychotic mafioso likes to hear very often. The other element of drama for our lovebirds involves a tragedy which befell Riley’s raven flock years before, and one she’s been running from ever since. When Riley and Tao go back to her flock for a visit, an unknown enemy from the past tries to finish the job which was started but never completed.

While previous installments presented us with somewhat repetitious problems involving human extremists and lone shifters, this sixth book takes us in a different direction completely. Throughout the read you’re practically guaranteed to suspect almost every member of Riley’s flock of trying to kill her, while also wondering if it’s all just a distraction from the real threat of our treacherous mob boss. When Riley and Tao finally return to Phoenix Pack territory we question if they’re finally leaving the danger of Riley’s past behind, if it might follow them back home, or if they’re just leaving one threat behind to run straight back to another in the form of the mob boss. Perhaps a combo pack! While these two dramatic plot points fed off of each other quite seamlessly in a way that majestically amplified the suspense level, the only hindrance came in their conclusion. One story line is essentially the full focus of the climax, drawn out with constant twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seat. The other felt too rushed with how everything came together, clearly with the intention of focusing more attention on that other story line. Not terrible, but not as seamless a conclusion as I was hoping for. 

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 6. If you’re looking for a steamy paranormal romance series with alpha heroes and powerful female leads, be sure to check out this series. 

Final Impressions: This was a fabulous addition to the series. Riley and Tao played off of each other so well. Their banter is simultaneously cutting, yet tongue-in-cheek. A scintillating flirtation that pulls you in from the very beginning, and won’t let you go until you’ve finished the last page. You’ll be fanning yourself from the steam coming off of this read, but it will also keep you in suspense as danger lurks behind every corner. Our lovebirds aren’t the only ones that will keep you entranced, as familiar faces from previous books return to create a sense of family within this pack of shapeshifters. My only complaint is that one of the story lines was too rushed in its final explanation, but other than that this is an exciting and fiery read that you’ll want to be sure and bring on your next beach vacation! 

Smut Level: Mkay….hot daaaaaang. The novel opens on the morning after a drunken sexcapade between our two lead characters, but don’t be disappointed on missing out on a description of their first time together. There will be a plethora of descriptive sexy fun times throughout the novel to keep you fully satisfied, especially considering we have two dominant and forthright characters that can go head to head. Pun absolutely intended 🙂 There is also one scene involving anal sex, just as an FYI for those of you who are or aren’t into that. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 305 Pages. 

Until Cobi by Aurora Rose Reynolds

He almost lost her before he even knew her. Now that Cobi has experienced his BOOM, he has no intention of wasting one more second to bring Hadley into his life. 

What’s it About? 

Cobi Mayson knows exactly who Hadley is to him the moment he sees her for the very first time. That doesn’t mean it will be easy for him to convince her to take a chance on him.

Hadley Emerson knows she could fall hard and fast for a guy like Cobi. A man who seems to show up every time she needs him, but she knows better than to just hand over her heart.

Knowing his future with Hadley is on the line, Cobi begins to tie their lives together. As the invisible rope that connects them tightens and things between them heat up, an unknown threat emerges threatening to take away their happily ever after and send them both into darkness.

First Impressions

Another fabulous addition to the Until family series that will make you wish for an insta-love BOOM moment of your very own. Consider yourself warned, if you’re not typically a fan of love at first sight, that is literally the hallmark feature which binds this entire series together. A Mayson family trait that can’t be escaped, ignored, or lessened. And Cobi Mayson is a most glorious example of an alpha male who doesn’t try to avoid that BOOM, he dives in with everything he has, and everything he wants is Hadley Emerson. This is an interesting addition to the Until Him/Her series in that it picks up immediately where the previous novel, Until Harmony, left off in a climactic shoot-out that left Hadley wounded in the hospital following her brave rescue of Cobi’s cousin. I’ve always suggested reading this series in order for the mere pleasure of not wanting to miss out on anything it has to offer, but for this seventh book especially I’d say it’s quite important to read the previous novel beforehand so as to fully understand the events which brought our two love birds together. As you can expect from this author by now, what follows is a delightfully steamy, yet also emotional tale of insta-romance between a male and female lead you love to love. 

The Impact of Trauma

While Cobi and Hadley’s romance was another fabulous addition to what has quickly become one of my favorite go-to series, there were a few areas that could have been tweaked to make this a truly stellar read. Firstly, Hadley’s troubled relationship with her lawbreaking parents is brought up a few times throughout the book, but their presence isn’t incorporated as fully as it should have been to make them feel like a critical component to the plot. Instead they came across as an annoyance that would come back at inopportune times, and even then we wouldn’t see a clear resolution to the blips their appearance would cause. Honestly, I don’t think they would have been missed if they’d been removed completely from the story. 

More importantly though, Until Cobi presents us with an intriguing, yet ultimately incomplete exploration of the aftermath of trauma. At the start of the novel we see how Hadley is struggling to cope following the horrific events of the previous book, wherein she was almost killed alongside Harmony at the hands of a mad-man. She feels the need to keep every light on in her house, has trouble falling asleep, and is often pulled out of sleep due to terrifying nightmares. We see Cobi, as well as Hadley’s closest friends, gather together to provide her support, and they convince her to seek help from a professional. We also get to see another one of my favorite tropes, which is that only when surrounded by the arms of her man can she find peace in sleep. Hadley’s journey back to something resembling normalcy was fully fleshed out in a tasteful and thoughtful way. However! As with any book in this series we eventually see a final climactic scene which puts our female lead in danger, and it was this second instance of a traumatic event which didn’t receive nearly the attention it deserved. 

It is in this aftermath of Cobi once again seeing the love of his life put in danger that we see the tables turned, and he is now the one who jerks awake from nightmares, and fears letting Hadley out of his sight in case danger should find her once again. And then…he gets over it in the span of a few paragraphs. It felt like such a missed opportunity for what could have been an enlightening comparison of Cobi’s path to healing compared to that of Hadley at the start of the book. Instead we get another somewhat unfortunate hallmark of this series, which is an ending that seems far too rushed for its own good. This book clocks in at just 239 pages, which makes it a satisfyingly quick beach read, but I gladly would have faced another 50 pages if it meant we could have observed what happens when an alpha male is brought to his knees by the forced realization that the love of his life could be ripped away at any moment. To see the strong, knight in shining armor crumble at the simple fragility of life. But to then see the strength of his love for this woman bring him back out of the darkness? That’s the full circle story I would have liked to see. 

Series: Until Him/Her, book 7. As always, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series. 

Final Impressions: By this point in the series I’m starting to see that some other readers are getting “bored” with the repetitive nature of the plot progression. Insta-love, alpha male, lots of sexy fun times, fairly low drama, final climactic scene where female lead is put in danger. Fin. Surprisingly, I still find myself falling in love with every new couple we get the opportunity to meet, as well as the beloved secondary characters that make each novel feel as though you’re coming home to friends you’ve known for years. What some may see as a tired progression, I actually find comforting in the reliability of the series as a whole. I know I’ll be entertained, probably laugh a few times, reach the brink of tears a time or two, and get some deliciously descriptive bedroom/bathroom/kitchen scenes thrown into the mix. What’s not to love? 

Smut Level: Hadley has never been one to luxuriate in a hot bath, but Cobi is more than willing to show her just how fun and steamy a romp in the tub can be. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 239 Pages. 

Until Harmony by Aurora Rose Reynolds

This series is all about that BOOM, and this installment just goes to show that if you try to push the BOOM aside, it will come back full force for the ultimate impact. 

What’s it About? 

Harmony Mayson isn’t the kind of girl to take unnecessary risk, but after meeting Harlen MacCabe, she starts to wonder if maybe she should be. The more time she spends with the wild and free biker, the more she starts to crave the freedom he gives her…. And even more, she starts to crave him. 

Harlen lives his life on his own terms. After losing both his parents at an early age to a robbery gone bad, he knows how precious life is, and he’s determined to get as much out of it as he can. When he runs into the beautiful Harmony and finds out she’s moving to town, he knows it’s time to take his shot. 

She thinks he only wants to be friends, but she couldn’t be more wrong. What Harmony and Harlen don’t know is that their time might be cut short. Revenge is in the air, and someone won’t stop until a debt is settled.

First Impressions

For avid readers of the entire Until series, if you’ve made it this far to the sixth book of Until Her/Until Him, believe me when I say you’re going to love it just as much as all the others which have come before. And if you haven’t read any of these books before…then what the heck is wrong with you?! Get on it already. This book presents us with everything we know and love about the series: a sexy and growl-y alpha male, a strong and tenacious female, lovable side characters (both new and beloved old friends), and of course, the BOOM that brings our two love birds together. What I loved so much about this installment was that Harmony and Harlen sort of try to suppress the immediate connection which has brought them together in the first place. 

Our novel opens with a chance meeting in a hospital parking lot after Harmony secures a job as a nurse there, and while Harlen would like nothing more than to throw her on the back of his bike to go celebrate, they both recognize the hesitation that Harmony feels about throwing all caution to the wind. After all, she’s no risk taker, so the idea of giving into her feelings for this seemingly bad-boy biker causes her to pause, an action that Harlen can see clear as day. While she declines his invitation for a joy ride, no matter how much she might want to say yes, this isn’t the end for our main characters. Harlen respects the boundaries of this initial rejection, but he refuses to let this be the end of their story. Throughout the next few chapters we see Harlen slowly try to reignite a connection with Harmony, but he’s almost too slow for his own good as it results in Harmony thinking he just wants to be friends. The more time they spend together as “buddies”, the more our risk-averse heroine contemplates the ultimate risk of laying all of her feelings out on the table. And once she does? Well, there’s no going back after that BOOM. 

The Happily Ever After

I was personally delighted by the subsequent romance which played out between our two lead characters, especially when we consider that Harmony was sort of the one to initiate it by finally acting on her desires for Harlen with a passionate kiss. Sure, she immediately tries to avoid him afterwards from embarrassment at the thought that maybe he didn’t want to be anything more than friends, but he’s more than willing to come after her to prove otherwise. I guess in a way it was a mutual overtaking of desire. The rest of their story is relatively drama free and even-paced as they easily fall into a relationship with each other. Harmony is willing to stand up to her overprotective father, Nico, to convince him that Harlen is the man of her dreams, just as Harlen won’t back down to convince Nico he’ll do anything to protect his beloved daughter. Harlen does indeed epitomize the characteristics of an alpha male, but I also appreciated that Harmony wasn’t afraid to poke the bear every once in a while. 

He demands a kiss before she leaves for work, or else he’ll have fun punishing her later? Well, she cheekily saunters out the door sans kiss to see just what he has in mind, and my goodness does she enjoy her “punishment”. Nothing like being held up against the wall for some sexy fun times, and yet in their post-passion haze we see Harlen put down his alpha wall to openly acknowledge how he does need that kiss from her every morning to make it through his day until he can see her again. And that’s one of the aspects I love about this series. Our alpha males clearly have a sensitive side to them, and we never doubt that the love they feel for their ladies goes deeper than merely a sexual component. There’s heart beneath it all. 

Series: Until Her/Until Him, book 6. It was so much fun diving back into this world. We get a brief introduction towards the end of this read of who the main characters will be for book 7, and I am more than ready to get started!

Final Impressions: This is the perfect kind of beach read. Funny, sexy, heartfelt, with just a smidge of drama to keep things interesting. The primary focus of the read truly is on the evolving relationship between Harlen and Harmony from their BOOM to friends to lovers, but delicately interwoven throughout the novel is an underlying sense of conflict involving a handsy doctor at Harmony’s work. The author does a fantastic job of simultaneously keeping this drama primarily reserved for the background, yet also slowly elevating it throughout the progression of the novel before it ultimately breaks through for a final, suspenseful climax. Be sure to add this one to your TBR pile. 

Smut Level: Harmony might express a bit of timidity when Harlen first expresses an interest in her, but once they finally end up in each other’s arms all sense of hesitancy is thrown right out of the bedroom. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 239 Pages.

Deceitfully Yours by Bethany Bazile

Jude was just supposed to be another mark, but it doesn’t long before Kylie finds herself breaking the number one rule of con artists: falling in love with her target.

What’s it About?

Jude Baxter knows instantly that he wants Kylie in his bed. What he didn’t realize is that she’s everything he’s been looking for. When lust turns into love, Jude puts everything on the line to make Kylie his.

Kylie Weber manipulates situations to get what she needs from men, but Jude knocks her off her game. Jude is unexpected and exciting. Kylie soon finds herself erotically entangled in Jude chains and rope, but worst of all she’s gotten her heart entangled in this very dynamic man.

Will the secret she keeps from him cost her everything she never knew she needed?

Quick Review

I’ll be the first to admit that BDSM romances typically aren’t my favorite, but nevertheless I like to try them out every once in a while to mix things up. Therefore, I was a bit surprised that this one managed to hold my interest essentially from start to finish, primarily due to the fact that this wasn’t simply another introduction into the world of whips and spanking, though that was still certainly a prominent feature in the sexual relationship between Kylie and Jude. Beneath the sexual layers of our lead couple we’re also presented with an intriguing con of deception. We know pretty much from the start of the novel that Kylie has her sights set on Jude for some kind of ploy, but as the novel evolves we are privy to the dark details behind Kylie’s motivations in that she is merely working at the behest of a criminal who proves to be the penultimate puppet master, constantly pulling the strings of this vulnerable woman to meet his every whim.

While this side plot successfully added a layer of suspense to the overall story, the short length of this novel at just 241 pages resulted in a lack of depth to what could have been a truly engaging story arch. Instead, we can’t help but feel left wanting when it comes to the relationship which develops between our lead characters, as well as the drama involving Kylie’s con and dubious employer. We’re never provided with enough dialogue or attention to become fully invested in what Kylie’s employer was after, the reintroduction of someone from Kylie’s past, or why our couple became so enamored with each other so quickly considering Jude was always suspect of Kylie’s ulterior motives. The entire novel builds to a climactic twist of a reveal, but unfortunately it was one that seemed fairly obvious from the get-go, not to mention the utter disappointment in discovering that Kylie was aware of this twist all along. I won’t spoil it for the rest of you, but let’s just say things would have been significantly more intriguing if Kylie was just as surprised by the big reveal as the rest of us were also supposed to be. In spite of Kylie’s cryptic warnings to Jude that something from her past would threaten their relationship, but to always remember how much she loved him, Jude is quick to throw her to the side when the going gets tough.

Series: This premier book was supposed to be followed by a sequel featuring friends of Kylie and Jude, but I’m not sure if it was ever released.

Final Impressions: Throughout the entire read we know it’s simply a matter of time before Jude discovers that Kylie’s initial pursuit of him was due to nefarious plotting, and that this inevitable reveal would threaten the very foundation of their relationship. We keep hoping that Kylie will open up to Jude about how she’s been trapped into conning him by the machinations of her scheming employer, but alas, she chooses to keep this crucial detail to herself until it’s far too late. At one point I was willing to push aside this somewhat aggravating trope when I thought it meant that Kylie was refusing to reveal her secrets to Jude so that she could stand up to the villain all her own without needing to rely on Jude to solve her problems for her. Unfortunately, not only do we see that Jude is needed to ultimately bring our heinous wretch to justice, but he then brings Kylie’s initial deceit into their BDSM practices as a way to “punish” her. Even though Kylie always enjoys the dominant ministrations which Jude subjects her to, I couldn’t help but feel this straddled the line of mental manipulation to a point that went beyond their typical forays of pain and pleasure.

Smut Level: Goodness gracious, golly gee, this one is certainly a doozy when it comes to delightfully excessive dirty talk and deliciously explicit sex scenes. At first I thought we were only introduced to a few BDSM moments at the start of their relationship, before things transitioned back to rather vanilla scenes of lovemaking, but the author manages to bring things back full throttle by the end back to d/s play.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 241 Pages.