Sweet Sacrifice by L.D. Rose

YES!!!! God is female b*tches!!!!!!! Ahem, pardon me. Some slight excitement there. Moving on.

What’s it About? 

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Former Navy SEAL Sebastian “Bash” Lockard died in Afghanistan after leaping on a grenade to save his comrades. Little did he know his act of heroism would grant him a ticket into Heaven’s elite army as one of the few and powerful Archangels. Struggling with his new existence, Bash still retains his human memories, leaving behind a wife he loves with all of his heart. Although he’s forbidden to see her, he can’t resist her lure, or the mortal desires he harbors for her.

As a young widow and nurse, Irene Lockard still mourns her husband two years after his untimely death. His absence is everywhere, and when her best friend weds, she hits an emotional rock bottom. As if summoned from the skies above, Sebastian appears before her, and they share an unforgettable night. But when he once again vanishes, she wonders if she’s truly gone made with grief. The only way Sebastian can remain with Irene is if he makes the ultimate sacrifice. But will she overcome her fear of losing him again to another war?

First Impressions

This is an enchanting read that draws you in with the emotional drama of the characters. These two go beyond “till death do us part”, and have a love that is stronger than and expands beyond death. Consider yourself warned, this read will tug at your heart strings, and can be a bit too hard to bear at times. We open to see Irene stuck in a dark depression years after her husband sacrificed himself to save his SEAL brothers. The fact I just happened to be reading this book over Veteran’s Day made the whole situation even more poignant and emotional for me. Totally unplanned, by the way. Irene is wandering through life in a fog, on the brink of giving up entirely when something incredible happens. Perhaps her husband isn’t actually gone forever after all.

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An Archangel Warrior

Due to his cunning bravery as a mortal, Sebastian has been recruited in death to be an Archangel, spending the rest of eternity fighting demons and pure evil. Something that I enjoyed about this novel thematically was that while it contained religious components, and spent quite a lot of time discussing angels and the afterlife, it never really felt overly religious to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with novels which do tend to sway more towards the religious side of faith of course, but I think the way this novel was structured means that it can be enjoyed by a wider audience. You also don’t really need a heavy religious background to understand the story.

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However, the one aspect that I wish had been developed just a bit more was the evil side of things. I know…that sounds weird, but hear me out. While our novel opens with Sebastian and his fellow Archangels pursuing a demon, we never get a whole lot of description surrounding this demon, his motives, or end game. I guess I would have liked if there had been more of an obvious villain with a backstory. That being said, I can also appreciate the fact that the main point of the story is meant to highlight the relationship between Sebastian and Irene rather than it being a monster fighting book per se. Not to mention the fact that Sebastian’s Archangel teammates have been combating evil since the beginning of time means that this demon was probably just one more drop in the bucket for them. Still though, I think maybe just a bit more focus on the dark side of the afterlife would have been interesting.

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A Painting of the Afterlife

Something this novel does phenomenally well was the description of Sebastian’s new world, as well as his journey getting there through death and Purgatory. In addition, the scenes involving Irene’s encounters with the Soul Mate Tree are painted so clearly, and even creepily at times to the point where I felt like I could succinctly picture everything in my mind’s eye. In my opinion, this skill is always what distinguishes whether or not I like a particular fantasy novel. This is a different world we are dealing with here that is so different from our own, and yet it almost felt like I was there. Well done!

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Everlasting Love

Again, the main focus of this book is on Sebastian and Irene reuniting after two years of him being dead. It’s emotional, yet I feel like there was one missed opportunity to truly tug on the heartstrings. You see, we get quite a few scenes of Sebastian internally reminiscing about the moment leading up to his death, his last thought and vision of his beloved wife, his struggles through Purgatory, and his eventual salvation at the hands of the Archangel Michael. On the flip side, we also see Irene think back on her pain and depression over the last two years, and the darkness which has seemingly enveloped her soul.

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However, after these two finally reunite (and get the bulk of their delicious sexual musings out of the way!) we get one scene in which they bare their souls to each other about everything that’s transpired over the last few years, and unfortunately it is sort of glossed over. We basically get a sentence of how “Sebastian told her everything and she cried”. Aaaaand then we move along. Darn! If we as the audience could have held off on learning some of those dark details until they could share them with each other for the first time? And they shared some of those particulars about how lost they felt? How the last vision he saw before dying was her face? Phew I definitely would have been reaching for the tissues!

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

Series: The Soul Mate Tree, book 9. Although this was the 9th book in the series it could have easily been the first. I didn’t feel as though I was missing out on anything, yet I’m now also curious about what the other novels have focused on.

Should you read it? An emotionally gripping read. Maybe not the best beach read, but I think a mountain cabin would be perfection. We see how desolate and bleak the future seems for these two when the other isn’t in it. And then when they do ultimately reunite it’s passion filled, and also has a feeling of desperation to it. They both want to make the most of this moment in case it truly is the last they have together. I wasn’t sure where this book was heading, but I will say the ending had me on the edge of my seat, and was rather poetic.

Smut Level: Dude! He literally tears the dress from her body! Such a delightful scene to read in a packed Tim Horton’s in Vancouver. Held my Kindle rather close to the chest if you catch my drift. Overall though, some amazingly steamy and descriptive scenes.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Soul Mate Publishing, LLC. 153 Pages.

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The Red by Tiffany Reisz

I feel like we all need to take a moment to admire the ethereal beauty of the cover art. Just look at it! Gorgeous!! As for the book itself, well…let’s just dive right in, shall we?

What’s it About?

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Mona Lisa St. James made a deathbed promise that she would do anything to save her mother’s art gallery. Unfortunately, not only is The Red painted red, but it’s in the red. She soon realizes she has no choice but to sell it. Just as she realizes she has no choice but to sell it, a mysterious man comes in after closing time and makes her an offer: He will save The Red if she agrees to submit to him for the period of one year. The man is handsome, English, and terribly tempting…but surely her mother didn’t mean for Mona to sell herself to a stranger. Then again, she did promise to do anything to save The Red…

First Impressions

This was my first ever Tiffany Reisz novel, and my first impression was pretty immediate: I am waaaaay out of my element. Having never read a Reisz novel before I didn’t really know what to expect. If you’re a fan of her style of storytelling, I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy this one. Personally, I found it rather hard to review. On the one hand the writing is downright exquisite. You can’t deny that fact. The scenes are outlined in such particular detail you feel like you’re right there in the room with the characters. On the other hand I really didn’t want to be in that room. The sex scenes were excessively graphic and raw to the point where I just couldn’t enjoy them. This is the kind of book which intentionally tries to make you question your preconceived notions of pleasure and sex, like a psychological mind game. For me, it was done to excess, and I was uncomfortable reading it for the majority of the time.

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A Deal with the Devil

While our mystery man might not be the actual devil, we get the sense pretty early on that there’s something different about him in the paranormal sense. Malcolm comes upon our heroine when she is at her lowest: half a million in debt and on the brink of losing her mother’s beloved art gallery. He offers to give Mona one million dollars if she gives him carte blanche over her body for one night every 2-3 months for a year. If she agrees, he’ll provide her with a priceless work of art after each and every tumble. Well…that’s a new kind of sexual deal I’ve never come across before.

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You gotta give it to this guy, he doesn’t f*ck around. Malcolm couldn’t be more blunt when outlining this arrangement with her. There are no flowery words of love, and he acknowledges right off the bat that he’s treating her like a whore. Literally. “I think you’ll make a fine whore” is a direct quote. Interestingly enough, his continual label of her as “whore” eventually comes across as a pet name rather than an insult. Malcolm admits he just wants to f*ck her, and has no interest in love or marriage. I guess you kind of have to appreciate he’s being upfront and not trying to manipulate her?

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The whole thing is sort of conducted like a business deal, and is the first introduction of some interesting examples of juxtaposition throughout the book. This man gives off a dignified air when discussing something so overtly sexual. They carry out their sexual contract in a seemingly pretentious art gallery, yet are surrounded by erotic art as they indulge in excessively carnal and scandalous acts. Mona acknowledges how weird it is for him to just jump right in with his head between her thighs without any wining and dining beforehand. Malcolm is thoroughly using her body, yet she states multiple times how much she enjoys being used by him. Sooo…yay for it being consensual?

A Lesson in Art

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Nymphs and Satyr by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

I will say, while this book wasn’t my cup of tea there was one feature that I really did enjoy, and that was the art aspect. Before each coupling, Malcolm would provide Mona with the title of a piece of art that would come to represent the theme for the evening. This is when the paranormal aspect of Malcolm’s persona really comes to the forefront, as he is able to transform the back of Mona’s art gallery into any setting, from an elaborate maze to a secluded clearing in a fairy tale forest. Every chapter is entitled with the name of the artwork, and it was kind of fun to look them all up on Google before proceeding with the chapter. Definitely something I would recommend to all readers who take this one on!

 

Out of My Wheelhouse

I had trouble wrapping my head around several elements of this novel. The first was Malcolm’s literal treatment of Mona like a whore. What I found so bizarre though was that he didn’t look down on her for selling herself, and she too seemed to enjoy it. He admits, “I have trouble respecting a woman who gives away for free what she could sell for good money.” Well, doesn’t this just make you question everything you were taught growing up? It’s kind of freaky how much a smooth talker this guy is, where you start to think, “Wait, am I…am I supposed to think he’s right?” You start to realize that he doesn’t just want to f*ck her, he wants to f*ck with her by playing mind games of what’s real and what’s fantasy.

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Dora and the Minotaur by Pablo Picasso

There were two scenes in this book which stood out to me, mainly because they were the ones which confused me the most. The first was the enactment of The Slave Market painting. In addition to Malcolm, four other men come to Mona’s gallery to poke and prod her, suck her, examine her breasts, mouth and nether region. She mentions how she’s humiliated, she hates it, she wants to cry. And yet…she also loves it. She doesn’t understand it. I don’t understand it! Let’s move on.

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The Slave Market by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Then towards the end of the novel we have a rather demented version of 99 bottles of beer on the wall. Instead, it’s smacks of Malcolm’s riding crop. Mona gets 100 strikes of his cock for 100 strikes of his crop. Malcolm whispers words of encouragement and adoration throughout this scene to the point where Mona loves him and his kindness, while also curling up in the fetal position and crying tears from the pain. After every strike of the crop he would kiss her, which made her eventually see every strike as a loving kiss itself. Now…that’s a psychological mind game right there! Personally, I couldn’t help but see it as a disturbing window into abuse.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? If you enjoy the work of Tiffany Reisz I would say give it a go. I did enjoy the artistic element of the novel, it has some interesting twists, and the writing itself was spectacular. This book is seemingly all about the heroine discovering herself, and I guess for me it made me discover that for a genre of novel like this I am a total prude when it comes to sex! The sex scenes presented were simply too over the top hardcore for me (which is definitely saying something!), and therefore made it a rather uncomfortable read.

Smut Level: Malcolm penetrates Mona with a glass water bottle. I’ll never be able to look at another bottle of Perrier the same way ever again.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. 8th Circle Press. 250 Pages.

Dragon Knight’s Shield by Mary Morgan

Just look at that cover! Look at the flames! There’s just something about a man in a kilt. Mmm.

What’s it About? 

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Angus MacKay, leader of the Dragon Knights, failed his brothers and his clan upon the death of his sister. Now he must fight the darkness of despair tempting his soul. Back on Scottish soil, he comes face to face with Deirdre who can wield a sword as mightily as his warriors, and he takes her captive. Yet, with each passing day, the fire dragon inside him roars to claim the one woman fate has destined for him.

Famed mystery writer, Deirdre Flanagan, is unprepared for the next chapter in her life. On a vacation to Scotland, she steps through the mists and enters into a skirmish alongside a Highlander. However, the fight has only begun, and now she must battle Angus as well as evil in order to claim the love of this Dragon Knight. Will their love be powerful enough to shield them from danger, or burn them to ashes?

First Impressions

It’s really hard not to draw comparisons between this novel and the Outlander series. After all, we have a modern woman who travels back in time, and falls in love with a hunky Scottish Highlander during a tumultuous time in history. What really sets this book apart though from Outlander is that once Deirdre travels through time we see a continuation of these magical and fantastical elements beyond the initial time travel. And surprisingly, I really enjoyed this aspect! It’s not like we just have a woman travel through time, and then everything else is normal. We’ve got Druids, dragons, fae and fianna! Not really sure what all of those things are, but I like ’em!

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Female Warrior

I absolutely loved that Deirdre was a strong, female warrior who could really hold her own in a world so different from her own. She could fight her way out of almost any predicament, and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and stand up to Angus when he was being a bit too medieval with his opinions.

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Although Deirdre experienced an initial phase of shell-shock at discovering she had travelled through time, she adapts fairly quickly. Especially in terms of speech, which was kind of hard to believe. However, wearing gowns instead of pants while sword-fighting proved continuously difficult for our heroine.

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A Non-Ending Ending

This is the fourth book of the Dragon Knights series, and the previous three dealt with each of Angus’ brothers. Seeing as there are four MacKay brothers, I just sort of assumed that this would be the final book in the series. As I was getting closer and closer to the end of the book, I couldn’t help but wonder why the drama of the story hadn’t been resolved yet. Although the book does end on a high note, it turns out there is a major “oh holy crap” moment towards the end which signals that the story is far from over.

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

Series: Order of the Dragon Knights, book 4. I haven’t read the first 3 books in this series, and although it was tricky at times to keep track of all the people and past events, I could still manage. I would still recommend reading the series in order though, as characters from the previous novels come together towards the end for a kind of reunion.

Should you Read It?  I wish I had known going in that this book wouldn’t result in a final conclusion, but I also can’t wait to see what happens next! The sexual tension between Deirdre and Angus is also off the charts amazing.

Smut Level: Angus often struggles to contain the fire dragon within him, but he has no problem bringing a lot of that passionate heat to the bedroom.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 315 Pages.

Down the Wormhole by Ana Franco

The concept of this story was really interesting, and had the potential to be something I would really enjoy, but unfortunately it just fell apart for me in terms of execution.

What’s it About? down

Medusa is a nice girl, Aphrodite is empowering, Loki vanished on thin air, Isis doesn’t have a memory and Anubis is the only sane one. Join them all in an adventure that mixes the styles of ABC’s Once Upon A Time and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson. What this can possibly mean? Why, chaos, of course!

First Impressions

Let me start off by saying that in middle school, Greek and Egyptian mythology was my jam. I read anything pertaining to the subject that I could get my hands on. So I was actually pretty excited going into this one. But alas, it almost seemed like this was originally written in another language, and Google translated into English. This poor writing was not only distracting, but actually made it kind of difficult to understand what the heck was happening.

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An Interesting Mixture

This book features a slew of different gods and goddesses from Egyptian, Norse, and Greek mythology. It was kind of strange to not just focus on one particular mythology, but there were some interesting characters thrown in there. I think my favorite character was Aphrodite, because she was so spunky, and told it like it was. Too bad she was frozen has a statue for the majority of the book.

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Kitty is the main heroine of the story. She meets a bunch of teens at an orphanage she apparently stumbles upon, and quickly discovers that they are actually gods/goddesses with magical powers. She actually handles this news fairly well, all things considered. I mean, Medusa is her roommate for crying out loud. So much for staying up late and braiding each other’s hair, am i right?

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The drama of the story involves the goddess Eris, who is after the bracelet of Anubis. She wants to control his army and bring about chaos to the world. Girl, if you really wanna cause some chaos just shut down Facebook for an hour. Trust me, it’ll work.

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There were multiple aspects of the story which I found to be rather confusing. Firstly, Eris employs the help of Set to go about her dastardly plans, but I never really knew why. She manages to locate the other gods and cause enough trouble on her own. Not really sure why Set was needed at all. Secondly, I felt there was a lack of back story to how these gods ended up in this human world to begin with. Some were cursed, others didn’t have full use of their powers, but we never really find out how or why to the full extent that I wanted.

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

Series: Wormhole, book 1.

Should you read it? If you can get past the lack of back story, and rather confusing translation into English, the characters are actually pretty enjoyable.

Smut Level: No real smut. There’s plenty of flirtation between Kitty and another god, and although they eventually do the deed it is completely glossed over.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. This book is free! Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 171 Pages.

Enchantress’ Destiny by Beth Caudill

This short novella was sort of a mix between Sleeping Beauty and Lord of the Rings. We’ve got elven clans and curses running rampant all over the place!

What’s it About? 

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One dark curse, two elves and a destiny neither could escape. Disregarded by her betrothed, elven princess Clairessa Bellehaven analyzes spell books and dreams of finding someone to share her life. Betrayed by her unfaithful witch boyfriend, she convinces herself a single night with another elf will do no harm. Except the Goddess has a plan and Clairessa will have to fight to save the man who seized her heart and refused to let her go. Clan prince Rowe Calder arrived in Wildeloch to settle problems with his family’s business. What he found was the one elf he’d spent his life avoiding. His bondmate. The woman destined to bring about his death. Now he must find a way to keep his family safe when the dark elf comes to claim his soul. Will a love long denied be strong enough to save them when darkness seeks retribution. 

First Impressions

So right off the bat, the title isn’t my favorite. Mainly because I seem to spit saliva whenever I try and say it. Enchantressssss’ssss doesn’t really roll of the tongue. Ok, moving on to discussions that don’t involve spit. To be honest, fantasy romances aren’t always my favorite, and I think this book highlighted the main reasoning behind my feelings towards them. It was really hard for me to picture the world these elves were living in. It sounded like they lived in a big city with night clubs and traveling discs, but at the same time they are all about being connected to nature and surrounded by the forest. That, and other fantastical elements, such as a dark elf, Goddess, and shadow cat made it hard for me to really get lost in the story as I was having so much trouble visualizing what was actually happening.

The Relationship

Clairessa and Rowe (best name ever) are both destined to marry elves they’ve never met before, thereby linking two very powerful clans. Right when these two meet it’s blatantly obvious to the reader that they are actually destined for each other, but it takes them a while to figure it out. They’re too busy being swept away by their lust. I must say, reading such a vivid sex scene involving magical powers was definitely entertaining. Step back Christian Grey, Rowe can bind Clairessa’s hands together using only his mind. Beat that sucker!

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After they lose themselves in a night of pleasure, Clairessa winds up prego, and she and Rowe immediately fall deeply in love. That must have been some really good lovin’. Once they both find out they were destined to marry, they decide to follow through with the binding ceremony. This is where I was a little confused. The reason Rowe was so hesitant to marry in the first place wasn’t because he was a playboy bachelor looking for endless elf booty. Instead, a dark elf had placed a curse on him whereby he would die upon marrying his beloved. Even though everyone knows this curse is in place, Rowe and Clairessa still want to marry. Now I’m not exactly petitioning for full acceptance of procreating outside of wedlock, but in this case it seems like maybe it would be ok if they just co-habitate for a while. That way Rowe could, you know, live? Or actually find and destroy this dark elf?

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

Series: Paranormals of Arilase, book 2. I haven’t read book 1, and honestly I think it would’ve helped some, as there are references to previous characters.

Should you read it?  Overall it was a very interesting and complex story line, but I think an extra 100 pages would’ve gone a long way. I wish that Clairessa and Rowe would’ve had more time to connect as a couple, and some more back story surrounding the dark elf and shadow cat would’ve been welcome.

Smut Level: The one descriptive smutty scene in this novella is magically smutty. Literally.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Moonlight Mountain Books. 85 Pages