A Paradox of Fates by Rebecca Hefner

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

What’s it About? 

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One woman bred to save the world…

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

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Her Life’s Mission

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

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

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Traveling Through Space and Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always on My Mind by Andrea Downing

Unfortunate circumstances and misunderstandings separate Cooper and Cassie just when they’re on the cusp of admitting their love. Will they ever manage to find their way back to each other?

What’s it About? 

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1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies. Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.

Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.

Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”

First Impressions

Typically, one of the most difficult parts of writing any review is the starting point. Where do you want to begin the analysis? How do you want to present the characters? Surprisingly, when it came to this read I encountered a much more difficult dilemma, and that was how to categorize this romance. Primarily, whether or not to tag it as a historical read. The setting of our book is 1972, and I realize a good portion of readers out there probably just gasped at the prospect that I would even contemplate filtering this as a historical read. What can I say? I was born in the last year of the 80’s, anything prior to that seems like history 😉 However, I must say that the question of historical or contemporary also made this one of my favorite aspects of the novel, in that it’s not your typical setting for a romance. If we’re ever presented with a tale of love obviously not set in the present day, we might see a far distant historical, regency, nineteenth century, or prohibition era if we really want to mix things up. But to set something in the early 70’s, and in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on top of it, makes this unique amalgamation of factors completely unexpected and exciting.

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To Be or Not to Be? 

The Vietnam War is raging. The era of the sexual revolution, feminism, and civil rights is well-established. In the midst of all this change, we find a conservative cowboy start to fall for a free-spirited hippie. It’s hard to think of two more unlikely characters in a romance.  While Cooper and Cassie differ in so many ways, from their lifestyles to their political views, it was fascinating to see these two polar opposites manage to push aside their differences to come together into each other’s arms. They’re able to provide a sense of solace and comfort as the rest of the world trespasses around the bubble they’ve built around them. And yet, we see that things aren’t always smooth sailing between them, and eventually their doubts and fears regarding their relationship risk tearing apart these two lovebirds forever.

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I’ll admit, upon first meeting, and for a rather large portion of the time they spent together, I questioned if Cassie and Cooper even liked each other. They obviously come from different backgrounds, and rarely agree on things. More than once Cassie admits to herself that Cooper’s behavior scares her, and yet his ability to turn sweet following an argument keeps her coming back for more. Borderline…mentally abusive in a way. It’s only when she completely misinterprets his commitment to their relationship does she run for the hills. The fact we’re in the period of the early 70’s, when the time of cell phones and emails are nonexistent, do we see it’s practically impossible for Cooper to go after her. We seriously question if they’ll manage to find their happily ever after, and desperately hope they’ll succeed in doing so. There were many times that I wished we could have seen a few more moments of affection and sweetness between Cooper and Cassie, so that I could be convinced these two were meant to be together. However, I could simultaneously appreciate the fact that if we had been presented with more of these moments, Cassie probably never would have doubted Cooper’s affections to flee in the first place.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: The outline of a heart-wrenching romance was definitely there, but I felt some areas could have been fleshed out more fully. Some of the first moments involving Cassie and Cooper’s interactions were somewhat uncomfortable, especially considering how often Cooper resulted to yelling and berating Cassie for the fact she didn’t fit seamlessly into his life. However, I’d have to say that one of the most compelling features of this romance was the fact that we were presented with a love story that was far from perfect. Our characters had flaws, and acted in ways that were often hard to differentiate right from wrong. But that’s what made it real and relatable. The fact our tale was set in the early 70’s, when war raged from afar, birth control was something to be debated/judged, and those who were more conservative clashed with those who were more liberal, we find ourselves confronted with a time that feels simultaneously foreign…yet achingly familiar.

Smut Level: Cassie and Cooper’s first time together in the bedroom actually seemed far from perfect, but practice certainly makes perfect. There’s not too much detail involved in their lovemaking, but we eventually find their awkwardness transform into tenderness.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 252 Pages

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Meant to be Family by Amelia Foster

Kelsey left Connor behind months ago with no explanation. When their paths cross once again, we have to wonder if they’ll be able to overcome their tumultuous past to discover that they were always meant to be family.

What’s it About? 

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My dreams constantly haunt me, whether I’m asleep or awake. Six months ago, my life veered off course when my fiancée disappeared with no explanation. The partying lifestyle I’d adopted to cope, ended in an accident that left my body as broken as my heart. To make matters worse, I’ve managed to run off countless physical therapists in charge of the in-home rehabilitation I need to get me back on my feet. My last chance at staying in my own house is gift-wrapped in wavy, auburn hair and startling gray eyes. The woman that shattered my heart. Kelsey is the only one left to help heal my body. And her unexpected arrival brings with it the opportunity to ask the countless questions I thought I’d carry forever. But her answers only create a new mountain to overcome, one I never imagined. Now, more than ever, I need to prove to Kelsey that despite everything, we are meant to be a family…

First Impressions

What can I say about this series?! The author is simply a master at weaving together the love story of our characters into an amazing tapestry which seamlessly incorporates past with present; pure joy with pain. There are moments that will make you laugh out loud, and then those emotional scenes that tug at your heartstrings with each new sentence. The way the story is pieced together by alternating the points of view of our characters, as well as shifting each chapter from past to present and then back again ensures that you’re immediately pulled into the timeline to a point where it becomes near impossible to put down. I actually finished this book in two full sittings! There’s nothing like promising yourself each chapter will be the last, and then finding out you’re 1.5 hours past your weeknight bedtime and eight chapters beyond when you told yourself you’d stop. I feel like an addiction disclaimer is needed before starting each book!

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The Broken Hero

When our story opens on Connor we discover he’s in a dark place. Broken both physically and mentally, we find him still pining over the love of his life who walked out on him six months ago with no explanation. Following Kelsey’s departure he tried desperately to win her back, but in his failure to do so he subsequently lost a part of who he was. After a tragic accident which left him a hero, albeit one temporarily without the use of his legs, he’s now in a constant state of surliness. Physical therapists run away from his house in short order, and before long there’s only one person left who can possibly help him. Kelsey.

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A Questionable Quandary

Kelsey is heartbroken to have to interact with Connor again, especially seeing as she was determined that the last time she saw him would in fact be the last time. However, when she sees the pain he’s in, and how much he needs her to get his life back on track, she’s willing to put the past aside to help him walk again. As we see scenes of these two struggling to be civil to each other, interspersed with scenes from their past showing how they first fell in love, we’re mean to question how things went wrong for these two people who were once so right for each other. What could possibly have caused Kelsey to turn her back on the man who was always destined to be her family? Well, as it turns out, I guessed the root cause of her desertion about 5 pages into the book.

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I don’t thiiiiink it was necessarily an obvious conclusion, but the only reason I immediately realized the source of her melancholia was because while reading this book I was simultaneously listening to an audiobook with the exact same theme! I don’t want to give things away, but essentially what we’re dealing with here is a situation where Kelsey was convinced that the only way for Connor to live the life they’d always dreamed of was for her to leave. She thought that if she’d initially been upfront with him about why she left, he would have stuck with her out of loyalty, but eventually would have come to resent their relationship. However, I couldn’t help but think that the pain of them being apart would have to be a million times worse than the pain of admitting the truth. Kelsey may have been in an emotionally bad place when she made that decision to leave Connor behind with no notice, but once we see the flashbacks of the evolution of their relationship, we can’t help but feel that he at least deserved some kind of explanation. She left him to question what it was that he did to make her run, when in reality it was nothing on his part. That lingering doubt, mixed with the pain of losing the love of his life, was something he didn’t deserve.

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

Series: Meant to Be, book 3. You can’t help but love each new couple!

Final Impressions: Every addition to this series is just as good as the one that came before. I’m constantly floored at how Ms. Foster is able to weave together so many different components of flashbacks and alternating points of view to create one cohesive, beautiful story that will enthrall you from start to finish. While this read did feel slightly predictable for me, I have to blame it on the coincidence of reading another book at the same time with the exact same issue impacting our heroine. I may not be able to condone Kelsey’s choice to leave Connor behind, but seeing the journey of them finding their way back to each other juxtaposed against how they first came together all those years ago? It’s a moving journey, and I’m all aboard!

Smut Level: Phew, this is one steamy read! Connor might be learning to walk again following his accident, but there are some things that come back to him quickly just like riding a bike.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Limitless Publishing, LLC. 219 Pages.

The Reluctant Savior by Rebecca Hefner

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

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Love and Turmoil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Enforcer by Abigail Owen

Sparks are certainly flying in this dragon shifter paranormal romance!

What’s it About? 

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Death comes for everyone. Even Drake Chandali. The aging process that twists all unmated dragon shifters’ bodies into something useless has taken hold of his body centuries early. A mate could have reversed the process, but now it’s too late. To protect his team of enforcers, he leaves, and comes face to face with the woman he’d thought was human when he saved her from a fire months before.

Except she’s not human. She’s a mate.

Camilla Carrillo almost lost her family to wildfire. To discover she’s fated to mate a creature made of flame and rage, and become one herself, should be terrifying. But somehow a rightness settles inside her, especially when she’s around the glowering red dragon shifter who wants nothing to do with her.

When Drake learns Cami bears his mark—the same mark as the High King—he refuses to believe she’s meant to be his. It’s too late. How could he turn Cami only to take her with him to the grave? At the same time, he can’t walk away. Hiding her from the corrupt, rotting High King might be the last honorable thing Drake ever does with the little time he has left.

First Impressions

Whenever I begin one of these dragon shifter romances, I always find myself surprised how determined these men often are to ignore the signs that their mate is right in front of them. Of all the books in this series so far though, I would have to say that Drake had the most compelling and understandable reason. All of the signs point to say that Camilla is his destined mate, staring him right in the face. Her proximity, her touch, make him feel alive in a way he’s never felt before. He feels drawn to her from the very first moment he lays eyes on her. And yet, he does everything within his power to try and push her away. The reason? He’s dying.

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All unmated dragons eventually age die if they ultimately go too long without mating. This degenerative process usually impacts dragons centuries down the road, but for Drake it’s hitting him earlier than anyone would have expected. He’s too proud to admit to his shifter teammates the sad fate that he knows will overtake him soon, as he quickly starts losing the ability to move, so he decides to abandon them to die out in peace without the need for them to witness his decline. When he runs to an old friend to live out his last days, he’s confronted with Camilla, and the very real possibility that she’s his mate. Rather than feeling a sense of relief at finding the one person meant for him, he instead refuses to hope that she could be his salvation.

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Better to Have Loved and Lost…

Drake is convinced he’s too far gone to be pulled back from the brink, and worries that if they should proceed with the mating process when they are in fact too late, his eventual death would result in Camilla’s death too following their solidified link as mates. He vows he’ll never risk her life in an attempt to save his own. However, just as much as I admired Drake’s selfless determination to protect, you’ve gotta love Camilla’s stubbornness above all else!

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She might be new to this world of dragons, mates, councils and enforcers, but when she acknowledges wholeheartedly that Drake is her destined mate, her reaction to his attempts to push her away are fabulous. Essentially, tough shit buddy! Yes, mating might eventually link them together in a way that would simultaneously cause her death with his own, but Camilla realizes that she would rather spend those few precious moments with Drake linked in the most firm emotional and physical connection possible, than to live out the rest of her life never having experienced it. She refuses to turn her back on him, and it was quite entertaining to see this slight woman stand up to an imposing and surly dragon shifter. You get it girl!

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

Series: Fire’s Edge, book 3. This series by Abigail Owen is an absolute delight, as is the corresponding Inferno Rising series which focuses on the clan kings rather than this enforcer team of shifters. There’s action, romance, political intrigue, deception, and of course some fantastical elements mixed in as well. What’s not to like?

Final Impressions: This was a great addition to the series. The moments where we witness vulnerability from this seemingly brusque, tough dragon were by far the most compelling. He gives off this air as though nothing can infiltrate the protective barriers he’s set up around himself, but Camilla has taken hold of his heart and refuses to let go. A missing element to this book which was featured prominently in the previous novels was the brotherly connection of these dragon enforcers. It makes sense in a way in that Drake didn’t want his team to witness his decay, and he’s leaving them behind so as not to have to struggle through an emotional goodbye. This results in the story being much more focused on his relationship with Camilla. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that, and while we get a few scenes which highlight the brotherly affection of the Huracan Enforcer team, I think I would have enjoyed another scene or two involving these dragons coming together as brothers.

Smut Level: Some dragon shifters have the unique ability to shift only certain parts of their bodies without fully shifting into their dragon form. For Drake, he has the unique ability to shift his human tongue into a forked dragon tongue. Camilla discovers that’s quite a handy trick to have in the bedroom.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 325 Pages.

 

Taken From Love by D.M. Porters

Gabriella and Gil venture out onto the high seas in search of adventure. Little did they know that love would be the greatest adventure they’d encounter.

What’s it About? 

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You may take my body, but you will never take my soul. At twenty-two years of age, beautiful Gabriella Taylor felt as if life was passing her by. She feared, in the end, she would be forced to settle for a man she did not love. Would such a man understand her adventurous nature and allow her the freedom she so needed? Highly unlikely. An unexpected voyage to the French Coast would change everything.

Lord Gilbert Ramsay rarely paid attention to the many women who would look his way. Eager to follow in his father’s political footsteps, Gil’s focus was on understanding the plight of the common man hoping to one day represent them. He would trade his London fineries and join the crew of a merchant ship, his identity hidden from the others, of course. Never did he expect to meet the likes of Gabriella Taylor.

Knowing it was wrong, Gabriella was drawn to the handsome but irritating crewman. He was like no man she had ever met. Gil, although initially annoyed with the spirited girl, could not help but be intrigued. What began as an exciting journey of emotional awakenings for Gabriella, would turn into a harrowing ordeal. Taken by ruthless pirates, she would face the challenge of her life, wondering if she would ever see her family or Gil again. It would seem her wish for adventure had become painfully true. Oceans from home, she would need all her courage and that of a gorgeous sailor to help her make it back to the life she so wants.

First Impressions

Gabriella has grown up surrounded by love. Her parents are the guiding force to demonstrate that true love is not only possible, but also long-lasting. Her brother William has also found his own romance with his wife, Alexa, showing that love can be full of passion and excitement. Being in the presence of such loving couples is an inspiration to Gabriella, yet ironically also fills her with melancholy as she wonders why she hasn’t fallen in love yet herself. Surely if she hasn’t found romance yet, it couldn’t possibly be meant for her, right? Her wise mother knows that Gabriella is simply longing for more from life, and thinks a trip across the sea is just what she needs. Little did she know that she’d be sending Gabriella into the arms of the future love of her life, not to mention the arms of some cutthroat pirates. Even though it takes some time before Gabriella and Gil cross paths on this ill-fated journey across the English Channel, once they do it becomes nearly impossible to put this book down.

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You can’t help but wonder how everything will proceed following Gabriella’s abduction. Will she be violated by the wealthy foreigner who has purchased her? Will Gil succeed in rescuing her from the Moroccan harem she’s found herself in? And most importantly, will these two young lovers ever admit how much they truly care about each other? It’s an enchanting read, but one thing I wish we could have seen more of was the journey of Gabriella and Gil falling in love. After meeting on the ship, they have an initial animosity towards each other which isn’t fully explained, but is delightful nonetheless. They try to convince themselves they can’t stand to be around each other, but we all know that’s far from the truth. After spending one evening staring at the starry night sky together it seems as though they suddenly fall head over heels. As the story progresses we don’t doubt their devotion to each other, but it feels like we missed a bit of their romantic tale.

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Another Side of the Story

When we look beyond the romance between Gabriella and Gil, we notice some other interesting aspects of the story which bring an emotional depth to the plot. Perhaps most fascinating was when Gabriella found herself trapped in the harem of the man who purchased her from her pirate captors. She’s desperate to escape, and hopes that the many wives of her new captor will assist her in finding her way back to Gil. Surprisingly though, she discovers that these women are actually happy to be where they are, and try to convince her how lucky she is to have been brought into this world.

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For Gabriella, and even for us as the reader, it seems like a barbaric land she’s found herself in, yet for these women they live like queens, and are pleased nightly by their handsome and sexually talented master. They don’t seek rescue like she does, and instead view the outside world as a cruel place with no one to protect them. It was an eye-opening juxtaposition that presented us with a situation we didn’t necessarily have to agree with, but rather could appreciate that some people are happy in the different lives they lead.

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

Series: Taylor series, book 3. It’s sad to see this series end!

Final Impressions: This novel proves to be a sweet, final conclusion to a series which has taken us on a journey across time. I love how this third book incorporates the couples from the first two books, and at the very end we manage to come full circle back to how the series first started all the way back in book one. We might see the most exciting plot in this final story, what with pirates and exotic foreign lands for our characters to encounter, but when all is said and done I think the romance from book one still remains my favorite. The author succeeds to combine heartfelt sentiment with painful loss in each novel, and I can’t help but let the tears flow every time. Again, I wish we could have seen a bit more focus on Gabriella and Gil falling in love, but at the end of the day it was a fun and sweet read that has you on the edge of your seat, yet also sighing in delight.

Smut Level: There may not be many love scenes in this historical romance, but the ones we do get are delightfully steamy. Let’s just say Gabriella picks up a few pointers from the ladies of the Moroccan harem, and Gil is eventually quite thankful that Gabriella was such a dedicated student. .

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

The Darkness Within by Rebecca Hefner

If you’re looking for a romance novel featuring a conflicted hero and a tough-as-nails heroine, then look no further. This paranormal read has everything you could possibly want and more!

What’s it About? 

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Arderin, princess of the illustrious Vampyre kingdom, has always marched to the beat of her own drum. Motivated by a calling to heal others, frustration consumes her since her brother, King Sathan, doesn’t understand her desire to study medicine in the human world. Moreover, the son of the Dark Lord Crimeous has moved onto their compound and he seems obsessed with driving her absolutely insane. Hating him for his sharp tongue and dark nature, she tries to squelch her unwelcome attraction to him.

Darkrip has been enthralled by Arderin since the night he knocked her unconscious and sent her down the river, prompting the end of the War of the Species. Never has he met a woman more beautiful and passionate. Frustrated by her dramatics and consumed by his desire for her, he vows to stay away. For the son of Crimeous, with his malevolent blood, could never have children or a normal life.

When Crimeous threatens both their lives, forcing them into a shared captivity, they do everything they can to escape and survive. As their connection grows, so does their attraction. Knowing they have no future together, and the consequences of furthering their relationship would be disastrous, they forge ahead in the conflict against the Dark Lord. But the Universe is fickle and can muddle with even the best laid intentions…

First Impressions

I have been impatiently waiting for the book which would highlight this stubborn couple since the first novel in the series! At last, said book has been delivered and does not disappoint. Arderin and Darkrip are delightfully strong-willed, and at first glance appear to have an intense animosity towards each other which impacts their ability to even be in the same room. But when they’re forced to spend time together through either mission or complication, we finally see them having to confront the deep emotion and attraction which is constantly pulling them together no matter how hard they try to push each other away. I mean, what’s not to love with that set-up!

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Beyond the Romance

If we push the intense and sometimes controversial romance between Darkrip and Arderin aside, there are a few other key features presented in this novel that I really appreciated. First and foremost, the importance of family is highlighted through a variety of different relationship pairings. From Arderin and her over-protective brothers, to Darkrip’s complicated interactions with his sister and half-sister, to the couple from the first novel finally welcoming a child into their lives. Each pairing has it’s own complexities, yet throughout it all we see this group of slayers, vampyres and deamons come together to form the most unlikely of families.

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The other theme that this series has continuously grappled with is the concept of time for our Immortals. In the last book, we saw how time was explored in a way where our characters felt they had all the time in the world to eventually admit their feelings for each other, yet simultaneously discovered how fraught and limited time can be in this violent world. In this third book, time is once again featured as a focal point which can impact the relationships of our characters. When you live forever, you can’t help but question what is your true purpose in life? For Darkrip, he looks at his life as being divided into two parts: a time before and after Arderin. Before her, he simply floated along. He lived in an endless, mindless world of killing and raping. After her, he finally feels as though he has a purpose, even if it’s something as simple as making her laugh. It is because of her that he remembers the small pleasures that life has to offer, and this troubled deamon finally starts to live again. It was such a complex and beautiful point to examine that never felt too “in your face” with its scrutiny.

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The Cave of Wonders

There is a point in this novel where Arderin and Darkrip find themselves trapped in a cave by his evil father, Crimeous. This Deamon King is intent on forcing our two leads to mate, resulting in a child with both deamon and vampyre blood running through its veins that he can then manipulate and train to become his ultimate weapon. Hands down, these scenes involving Arderin and Darkrip’s imprisonment were the most revealing and poignant moments of the entire book. For it is during this time that they have nowhere to run or hide from confronting how much they actually care about the other. All their cards are laid out, face up on the table, whether they want to or not. And it’s during this time where we discover how vulnerable these two characters truly are. They may put on a facade of toughness to those around them, yet underneath all the stubbornness and sass are two sensitive souls who can no longer deny their feelings.

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It’s also during this time in the cave that we see how strong and inspiring they are. For her part, Arderin refuses to give up hope that they’ll make it out of this seemingly hopeless situation alive. For Darkrip, we see his desperation to do whatever is necessary to keep Arderin alive. Even if it means she’ll see a window into his entire past, and every dark deed he’s ever committed. The only way to save his vampyre is to give her his blood, which will thereby link her to him by viewing snapshots of his entire life. To ensure the survival of the love of his life, he must allow her to see how much evil has coursed through him, and risk her never wanting anything to do with him. Again, such a beautifully revealing moment to see this cocky, strong deamon crumble under the fear of being alone, and of possibly losing Arderin forever. Either he’ll lose her through death, or through his attempt to save with his blood. He sees it as a lose-lose decision, but one he can’t ran away from.

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The Troubled Hero

Darkrip is a troubled soul in every sense of the word. He refuses to see the good in himself, and also refuses to hope for a future with Arderin. He’s spent so long living in the shadow of his evil and cruel father, that it’s difficult for him to envision a future of peace. Growing up, whenever Darkrip allowed himself to feel or love it would always result in pain. His father would repeatedly rape and abuse his mother and sister as Darkrip was forced to watch on. He’s scared that if he allows himself to acknowledge his love for Arderin, she’ll become a target for his father to focus his wrath upon. He’s not willing to risk that.

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Darkrip was so convinced that by providing Arderin with his blood in the cave that it would result in her pulling away from him. However, we see the opposite come true in that it actually causes her to pull him closer. Yes, there was evil in Darkrip which controlled his every action for the first 200 years of his life. But through the love and influence of his mother he successfully changed his ways to fight against that inner darkness, and refused to let it overtake him again over the last 800 years. That strength, that willpower, is what draws Arderin to him even more. He might be convinced she deserves better, and try to push her away with all his might, but she’s just as stubborn and strong-willed to keep him in her life.

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 3. Three books down, just one final installment to go. I can’t wait to see how everything will come together in what is bound to be a climactic and exciting conclusion!

Final Impressions: Looking back at the entire series up until this point I would say this is probably the one which featured the least amount of direct confrontation with our primary villain, Crimeous. This is kind of interesting when you consider the fact he’s Darkrip’s father, and the two definitely have a long and troubled history. That being said, the emotional and psychological impact of this toxic father/son relationship is still featured prominently in this third book. In a way this is really Darkrip’s tale of learning how to see the good in himself, and acknowledging that he is worthy of Arderin’s love. These two have a commanding presence that will captivate you right from the get-go, whether they’re in a scene together or solo.

Smut Level: This is by far the steamiest book of the series so far. As a deamon, Darkrip experiences pleasure from pain, and while we don’t get any scenes that are overly kinky, that sort of speaks to the fact that this deamon isn’t a slow and gentle lover. There’s plenty of dirty talk and alpha male direction in the bedroom to keep you blushing and satisfied!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 232 Pages.