My Only One by Charlotte O’Shay

When Esme literally stumbles back into Shane’s life after years apart, he realizes two things: he can protect her from the danger that is after her, and he finally has the chance to admit how important she’s always been to him.

What’s it About?

Esme:
We grew up in side-by-side New York City tenements. Shane was my first friend, my first crush, and when he enlisted, my unforgettable heartbreak. When fate brings us back together after ten years, I’m in a world of danger. But I’m not a kid anymore and I know what I want. Shane and I have a second chance at forever and there’s no way I’ll lose him again.

Shane:
Brilliant, beautiful, bound for success, Esme was the girl next door and a temptation I had to resist. I was too old for her, but I couldn’t forget her. When we meet again after ten long years, she’s caught in the crosshairs of a deadly drug kingpin. But I wear a badge now. Nothing will stop me from protecting the woman who claimed me—heart and soul—so long ago. I’ll keep Esme safe or die trying.

Time’s running out for Esme to pay her father’s debt to the cartel.

First Impressions

Our novel beings with us being dropped smack dab in the middle of the drama, as Esme runs through the city streets to escape the clutches of an evil drug lord to whom her father has promised her in order to pay off his crippling debts. While she was initially open to the idea of marrying a stranger to help her family, it only took a moment of being in this man’s presence to realize he had no intention of marrying her, and he merely viewed her as a possession he could acquire and play with whenever he felt like it. It’s as she’s running through the dark city streets, feet and knees cracked and bleeding from her ordeal, that she re-encounters the one man she never expected to see again in her life, and the one man who has always represented safety. Shane and Esme were close childhood friends who always desired more, but when tragedy struck both of their respective families, they completely lost touch until this moment of reconnection. Shane is now a law enforcement officer, and when he hears of Esme’s predicament he vows to protect the one woman who got away. As they lay low in his apartment, all of the distance which the last few years of separation have created melts away, and both are aware this unfortunate incident has led them to find each other again.

Tons to Unravel

First things first with this read: love the premise. However, there was a loooot of back story for us to catch up on, and I feel we received an information overload that was a bit scattered in it’s delivery. To open on Esme running through the streets and having to pause to learn about not only who she’s running from, but then pause longer to get the history of her mother’s illness which drove her father to seek funds from a drug kingpin, and then transition to her running into Shane, and then having to learn their whole backstory…it just felt like I was being pulled into too many directions right from the get-go. With this book currently at a mere 111 pages, I almost think it could have benefitted from an additional 50-100 pages to clearly lay out the characters and their connection to each other.

I certainly appreciated diving right into the drama, but I wonder if a better flow would have been gained for example if we had opened on Esme getting ready for her meeting with the stranger her father has promised her to, and then she could slowly start to realize something is wrong with the situation before ultimately dashing off into the night. It would have allowed for a slow, delectable build of tension at the beginning, which would have mirrored itself beautifully with the formidable dramatic sequence we are presented with at the conclusion of the story.

Like a Movie

The absolute standout feature of this read was the final sequence as Esme is convinced to wear a wire in an eventual sting operation with our evil drug lord. The author does a phenomenal job of teasing out the drama, and slowly building up our anxiety level as we see a seemingly well-laid plan gradually deteriorate before our very eyes. The fact Shane can only listen in from the background and frantically try to catch up with and rescue the love of his life from the clutches of a mad man amped up the feeling of you about to fall off the edge of your seat. Another feature of this climactic scene that I absolutely adored was how it was practically Scorsese-esque in how it played out in one long, drawn-out sequence with almost no moment for a break to catch our breath. The near perfection of this dramatic build is another reason I wish we could have seen something similar in parallel at the front-end of our read, as it would have created such a marvelous balance to the read as a whole.

*A copy of this read was provided for an honest reivew*

Series: Fortunato Family, book 1. Shane comes from a large family who we have the good fortune to meet at one point in the story, and I’m certainly intrigued to see how the stories of his siblings will play out in future novels.

Final Impressions: Overall this was an exciting read, primarily due to the thrilling concluding scene. The opening felt a bit scattered which left me feeling like I had to re-read certain sections to clearly understand how all of the pieces and characters of the story fit together. Something else I would have appreciated was some more explanation as to how Esme and Shane so completely lost touch with each other considering how closely integrated she was into his family’s life. While they were both clearly going through their own struggles in life, they also seemed to be deeply invested in each other, so falling out of touch so abruptly was rather confusing. I was given an ARC of this read, so there were a few typos in the copy I received.

Smut Level: Esme may have been a virgin at the start of the novel when she and Shane reconnected, but that doesn’t mean she’s shy about sex. She knows what she wants (him), and she goes for it!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Evelyn P. McCabe Publisher. 111 Pages.

The Traitor by Abigail Owen

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

What’s it About?

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

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

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

Especially when his dragon decides she’s theirs.

First Impressions

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

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

The Rules are Changing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunting Season by Kate Rudolph

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

What’s it About?

This werewolf will protect his mate.

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

She’s sick of cocky men.

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

Right, Werewolves!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gray’s Promise by Anni Fife

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

What’s it About?

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

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

First Impressions

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

Moving on From Tragedy

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

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

A Somewhat Expected Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garridan’s Mate by Rebecca Hefner

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

What’s it About? 

Lose yourself in the magic…

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

An Activity Better than Sex?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunter by Eden Summers

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

What’s it About?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

Can Someone Tell Me…What’s Happening?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s it About?

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

Ebb and Flow

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

A Journey to Nowhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cryptic Prophecy by Rebecca Hefner

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

What’s it About?

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

Complexities From Start to Finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours by Angela Christina Archer

War might tear some friends and families apart, but this read highlights how it can also pull others together.

What’s it About? 

After France surrenders to the Nazis, all eyes turn to the Channel Islands off the coast. Knowing the Germans could invade their quiet home the resident children of Guernsey are evacuated. Among them are Amelia Ashton, and her older sister Evelyn.

The promise to stay safe.

Forced onto the boat by her older sister, seventeen-year-old Amelia Ashton arrives in Weymouth with hundreds of other children. Although she is placed with a kind and loving foster family in Derbyshire, her world is torn apart. With all her communication cut off from her family, and the boys at school joining to fight in the war, Amelia struggles with her own desire to help. On a whim, she lies about her age and boards a train headed to volunteer with the Women’s Land Army. Finding solace in the work of farm life, she reconnects with William, a young man from Derbyshire, and who doesn’t waste any time asking for her hand in marriage. Can Amelia start a new life without looking over her shoulder at what she left behind in Guernsey or will the war change everything?

The promise to survive.

Fearing for her parents’ lives, nineteen-year-old, Evelyn Ashton stays behind, living through the German occupation plaguing her once beautiful home—the island of Guernsey. Living under German rule, the residents find a new meaning of desperation and despair, trying to survive on rations and evade the threats of being sent off to a death camp. After her parents die in a bombing, Evelyn is left alone to fend for herself against her enemy, and when German soldiers take over her house, she seeks refuge in the only family she believes she has left—Henry—the man once interested in her sister. Can they find comfort in each other or will the occupation claim not only their love but also their lives?

Two sisters. Two promises. One bloody war that changes their lives forever.

First Impressions

After completing the first few chapters of this book I was surprised to admit how much it reminded me of Game of Thrones. Bare with me for a second. Sure, there might not be any fire-breathing dragons, paranormal elements or gratuitous sex scenes. And while we can probably take a far reach to compare the impending arrival of Nazi forces on this small island to the terrifying Night Walkers traversing a wall, that wasn’t exactly the similarity I had in mind. Rather, outside of our two primary sister main characters, you really shouldn’t try to become emotionally attached to anyone else in this book, as they are all fair game to become a victim of the horrors of war. This read might have romance weaved into the plot, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’ll be given a romanticized view of war. We aren’t presented with any scenes of battle on the frontlines between soldiers, but we do see the devastating effects for those back “at home”. Consider yourself warned you might want to have a box of Kleenex nearby when you pick this one up.

It’s a captivating, albeit oftentimes emotionally devastating read, but alas that is merely the reality of war. We must commend the author for successfully capturing the loss, uncertainties and hopes of those left behind. I’ll admit, I sometimes had to take a few breaks in between my stints of reading this one, as it was so reminiscent of the stories my Oma used to share with my sister and I about what it was like growing up in Nazi Germany with her own sister. From bombs landing in their family attic, to a Jewish classmate who stopped showing up to school one day. She even regaled us with the story of how an American soldier crash landed in a plane outside her village, and she was the only one who could speak a few sentences to him in English before German soldiers came and took him away. I’m sure there was plenty my Oma didn’t tell us about what it took to survive the war with her sister, but reading this tale about another pair of sisters trying to survive each day became quite emotional for me, especially as I tried to envision my sister and I in their shoes.

My Oma, Renate, with her sister, Elfriede.

Sisterhood

This might be a tale of romance, war and survival, but it’s also a tale of sisters. Amelia is sent off to England on her own, while Evelyn remains behind on the island of Guernsey as the Nazis invade. While we’re immediately swept up in the emotional roller coaster this read has to portray, one thing I would have liked to see a bit more of was a connection, yet also a distinction, between these two heroines as sisters. Aside from their goals for the future, these two ladies are rather similar in personality and demeanor that it almost felt like either one could have been present in either part of the story. This is where more distinction would have been welcome. As far as connection, the novel opens with Evelyn pushing Amelia onto a boat for the safety of England, and we sort of missed out on any experience of them together as sisters. It seemed like we didn’t get a full glimpse of their sibling dynamic, and maybe a flashback or two could have helped set the scene of what it was like for them to suddenly be separated by the distance of war.

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

Series: The Promises Between Us, book 1. I’m officially fully invested in seeing what happens to these sisters, and am committed to seeing it through to the end.

Final Impressions: This first novel is definitely setting the scene of our primary characters, including our sisters and their respective beaus whom they unexpectedly found in the midst of unimaginable tragedy. While I was initially hesitant to see Evelyn start to fall for her sister’s former flame, the situation is presented and explained in a way where you can only root for them to survive this war linked arm in arm. Amelia also finds a burgeoning romance where she wasn’t looking for one, and we must simply hold our breath in anticipation to see how the next few years of this war will unfold for the Ashton sisters.

Smut Level: A few breathtaking kisses, but nothing overtly explicit.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 323 Pages. 

The Warrior King by Abigail Owen

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

What’s it About?

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

Just one problem…

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

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

First Impressions

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

A Connection Which Keeps Them Apart

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

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

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

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

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

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