Untouched Heroes Vol 1: A Men’s Health Charity Anthology

What’s better than an anthology featuring romantic tales of virginal male heroes finding their happily ever after? How about the fact that all proceeds go to Movember! Help join the cause of raising awareness about men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.

What’s it About?

Sweet and sexy, funny and fierce, Untouched Heroes brings together eighteen new and established voices in two books. One heck of a Manthology. Turning the Virgin Trope on its head, these sassy, steamy novellas include tales of pure, divine rods and men going to great lengths just to lose that V Card. Get ready to giggle, gasp, and cry as you carouse this one-of-a-kind collection. Best of all, it’s for a great cause – All proceeds from these anthologies will go to Movember, raising awareness about men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.

Immortal Beginnings by Rebecca Hefner: Can a Deamon who has never felt a lover’s touch win the affection of a beautiful but wary Vampyre widow?

Authors included in Volume 1 are: Daphne Elliot; Klaudia Miel; Rebecca Hefner; Kate Seger; Linda Marie Pankow; Thomas Van Boening; Michaela Cole; Trissy Lee; Christopher Stanfield

Authors included in Volume 2 are: Mary Morano; Natalie Parker & Lizzie Stanley; Paula Dombrowiak; CJ Ferrell; JLynn Autumn; Brandi Lane; Linda Marie Pankow; Shauna Jared; Reese Jett

First Impressions

When I found out one of my absolute favorite authors had written a secret novella for the Etherya’s Earth series that was going to be featured in an anthology which would benefit Movember I simply had three words to say: sign…me…up! That, and a lot of incessant squealing and hand flapping in excitement. Even though I only had enough time to read Ms. Rebecca Hefner’s work before the release date, I wanted to be sure and get a review up in time so that as many of my readers as possible could take advantage of this opportunity to support such an amazing cause. For those of you who are also a fan of the Etherya’s Earth paranormal series, you won’t want to miss this beautiful short story, Immortal Beginnings. While it doesn’t feature any of the primary characters from the series we’ve come to know and love, you’ll quickly become enamored with the romance between deamon Dragos and vampyre Raina. You’ll have no problem finishing this novella in one sitting, and yet there is so much story to unpack between these two characters. Fangs down, of all the short stories featured in the Etherya’ Earth series so far, this was undoubtedly my favorite. I can only hope we’ll get a glimpse of this couple again in a future full-length novel.

Letting Go of the Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Tarina Anthologies. 668 Pages.

The Cursed King by Abigail Owen

The battle of the dragon clans has been building to this final moment. When the smoke and ashes clear, we can’t help but wonder who will emerge victorious to rule over them all. Let the battle commence!

What’s it About?

He will burn. She will rise.

Airk Azdajah, the rightful King of the White Clan, spent half a millennium being tortured by the false High King Pytheios. The only reason he’s alive is a curse— the man to kill Airk will be consumed in his own fire. Which is why Pytheios kept Airk alive, barely, unable to shift in his prison cage, driving the creature half of him into madness. Airk escaped, but he’ll never be truly free. What good is a king who can never let his feral dragon loose, never fly, and never lead his people? He’s better off dead.

Angelika Amon is the last unmated phoenix. The problem? She has no powers. Zip. Zilch. Angelika hates being dormant, especially now that her three sisters are blissfully mated to powerful dragon shifter kings and are very much part of the fight to take down the rotting king Pytheios, their parents’ killer. What good is a useless runt of a phoenix in a battle to save the dragon kingdom?

Desperate to find some way to help, she offers herself to Airk as a mate — just for political leverage. But a dormant phoenix is no damn use to him just like a dragon who can’t shift is no use to her. Until Pytheios sets his sights on Angelika for himself…

First Impressions

I think a very real part of me is still in disbelief that this incredible series is finally over. We have been enveloped in this story of dragon shifters, phoenixes, kings vs. king and good against evil for not only four books in this Inferno Rising series, but also an additional five primary works in the companion Fire’s Edge series. It’s definitely possible I’ll be going through an intense period of withdrawal over the next few months. However, I’m also thrilled that we could close out this series with two leading characters who once again manage to capture our hearts in the midst of perhaps more crushing adversity than any other dragon or phoenix has experienced so far in either series. Honestly, I didn’t even know that was still possible at this point! Every novel has presented us with two destined mates who somehow face debilitating challenges head-on, all in the hopes of saving their clans from the centuries of manipulative rule at the hands of a mad-king drunk from power. We’ve always seen two strong lead characters who are stronger together as a pair than apart, and while that is also true in many ways of Angelika and Airk, this is really the first time that we’ve examined a couple who are seen by both themselves and others as a liability.

They are determined to join in the fight against King Pytheios, but before they can do that they must first prove their worth to those who constantly try to push them to observe from the sidelines. Angelika might be a phoenix like her powerful sisters, but unlike them any power she may have been willed by her dying mother lies dormant within her. Instead, her primary strength involves convincing other dragons to join in their fight against evil. Airk on the other hand has almost too much power within him. After centuries of imprisonment by King Pytheios, and his dragon trapped within his mind with no ability to fly free, this beast has become a feral creature within him rather than a seamless part of him. To release his dragon now would run the risk of never being able to rein him back in again. Something Airk fears even more though than his dragon overtaking his very existence is the possibility of his creature harming Angelika in the process through her determination to have them mated. He can try to fight their connection as much as he wants, but if this series has taught us anything, it’s that two destined mates with this amount of scorching natural chemistry will never be able to stay apart for long.

The Culmination of Kings and Queens

Even though I didn’t want to see this series come to an end, I must say it was one of the more perfect examples of how to bring a long-running series to a close. We saw all of the key players from the previous novels, the companion series, and even a surprise appearance from those in another series by this author that I didn’t even realize was going to play a role in the events of this final book! The beauty of how all of our characters came together in this ultimate battle wasn’t just that we see how willing they were to support each other, or that we were granted one final opportunity to be in their presence before having to say goodbye. Instead, it highlights that no one character, or even one couple from this series, would have been able to face King Pytheios alone. It literally takes every single one of them joining together as an ultimate source of power to even stand a chance in the face of such evil.

Another feature of this series which is highlighted particularly well in this last book is the political struggle for power over the dragon clans. Up until this point, we’ve always known that King Pytheios is the premier representation of evil, unwilling to give up his reign. We are also privy to the extremes he’s gone to up to now in order to not only assume power, but to keep it. He betrayed his rulers, his people, and even his family to stay on the throne. And while part of this can be explained away as someone consumed with power, this final book reveals how much he believed his actions were in fact for the betterment of dragons everywhere. In a way, he too thought he was on the side of right, battling against those who were trying to take their society backwards to the way things used to be living under the rule of phoenixes rather than dragons. It finally provides a window into why King Pytheios fought with such ferocity. It wasn’t simply that he didn’t want to give up power, it’s that he also believed in what he was fighting for, however misguided and based in misconceptions he may have been in the end.

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

Series: Inferno Rising, book 4. I may have secretly wished this series could last forever, but I’m also happy with how everything finally came together for a satisfying conclusion. If anything, it makes me even more excited to see what Abigail Owen will have in store for us next!

Final Impressions: There are two critical details to keep in mind before starting this read, which can also apply to any final book in your favorite series. 1) Treasure each and every turn of the page that you get to spend with these characters for the last time. I can only keep my fingers crossed that maybe one day in the future we’ll see a light-hearted follow up novella which details what our characters are up to following the concluding events in this book. 2) Seeing as this is the final novel, all bets are off. You never know which characters might survive or ultimately fall to the forces of evil. It adds a thrilling level of suspense as you constantly wonder how or if our heroes will succeed. While the progression of some events were a bit tricky to follow along with logistically, overall this was a breathtaking and electrifying climax to the series.

Smut Level: Airk may be a virgin seeing as he’s spent centuries trapped alone in an isolated mountain prison, but that doesn’t mean he’s uneducated in the ways of pleasure. When a secret friend brings him a copy of the Kama Sutra, his years of study benefits Angelika in every way possible.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 419 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. 

Two Souls United by Rebecca Hefner

Two Souls United by Rebecca Hefner

There are countless discussions about some of the best tropes in Romancelandia, including friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, office romance, billionaire romance, etc. I must say this short novella reminded me of another tried and true classic: the bodyguard and his ward.

What’s it About? 

Two of the most beloved characters in the series find their happy ever after in this sweet, steamy novella…

Sam, uncle to Jack, whose strength and bravery are only matched by his kindness and compassion.

Glarys, the feisty, caring estate manager who puts everyone else first.

Two souls who aren’t searching for love but might still find it nevertheless.

Enjoy your time in Etherya’s Earth!

**The Etherya’s Earth series is best read in order so the reader can enjoy the evolution of the characters. After all, the author loves a good twist and wants the reader to uncover them organically. However, readers of romance rest assured that each book has its own featured hero/heroine and HEA.

First Impressions

I have absolutely fallen in love with this series and all the characters we’ve gotten to know in Etherya’s Earth. In my haste to start this novella I only briefly glimpsed the cover of two lovers embracing and jumped right in thinking we’d be treated to another delightful couple in the prime of their immortal lives. Well imagine my excited surprise to discover early on that our female lead, Glarys, didn’t take on her immortal form until she was a white-haired 65-year-old. I never would have guessed the lovely blonde on the cover was in her 50s, let alone 60s, so I really wasn’t expecting this kind of “twist” involving one of our leads. That being said, I do love me some romances featuring mature characters!! Next thing I know I’ve wandered down the internet rabbit hole looking up famous actresses in their 60s who I might be able to picture in my mind as the somewhat shy and reserved Glarys, but who also has a bit of spunk to her personality when it’s needed most. It was…so much fun.

The Discussion of Age

Now, while Glarys has the appearance of a sixty-five year old, and Sam appears to be in his 40s, technically these immortals are both hundreds of years old, so the idea of a twenty year age gap is practically laughable when you look at the big picture. Something I really appreciated with this novella that we really haven’t explored in the previous full-length novels in the series was that even though they’ve been around forever, Glarys and Sam both still have the ability to blush like a couple of teenagers when they first start to flirt and explore a romantic relationship together.

It was such an adorably refreshing sentiment for these two who needed a bit of time to warm up to each other before taking things further. Essentially, just because they’ve been around forever doesn’t mean they have all the confidence in the world when it comes to starting out on a relationship journey with someone new. It’s a side of immortals we just haven’t really seen played out before, and it helps us find a small way to connect to these vampyric creatures from another realm. They can get nervous, feel insecure and blush red just like we can when a long-time crush starts to show us attention. Apparently it doesn’t matter if you’re 25, 65 or 955, new love can be exciting yet nerve racking at the same time!

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 5.5. I will read everything this series and this author has to produce!!

Final Impressions: This novella manages to pack a lot of punch into just under 100 pages, including the friendship and romance between Sam and Glarys, some fight scenes and drama from our deamon enemies, and even some PTSD for Sam having lost his arm in a battle years ago. I would have liked to see just a smidge more interplay or mention of Sam’s nephew, as well as Glarys’s former husband, but heck at that point I’m probably just craving another full-length book to this great series.

Smut Level: If Sam and Glarys teach us anything, it’s that as long as there’s chemistry there’s nothing stopping ya from causing some flames between the sheets. Whether you have the bod of a 65-year-old, or only one arm, passion can make everything perfect.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. 78 Pages. 

The Blood King by Abigail Owen

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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From Enemies to Mates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ghost Moon by Kathryn Knight

Inheriting an old, rundown house from a distant family member would be stressful enough. This house comes with the added bonus of a creepy, crying ghost.

What’s it About? 

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When Lark Cavanaugh’s life in New York City falls apart, she’s left reeling from a staggering betrayal. She escapes to Cape Cod, where a distant relative has left her an old house with a tragic past. Rumors of a haunting presence plague the abandoned home, but Lark doesn’t believe in ghosts…until she has no choice.

After completing his military duty, veterinarian Jesse Holt returns to his small hometown to take over his father’s practice. He soon finds himself drawn to the alluring redhead now living next door, but she has made her intentions clear—she’s moving back to the city as soon as possible. When frightening events threaten her safety, though, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Unable to fight their feelings, they give in to desire…but another battle looms. Lark’s arrival has awakened a decades-old mystery, and the truth of what happened at Holloway House will only be revealed when it claims yet another life.

First Impressions

Lark is a bit down on her luck when she moves to a small New England town after leaving her cheating fiance, and inheriting an old house from a distant family member. Her luck seemingly plummets even more when she discovers her new home is being haunted by a despondent ghost, and her cat goes into a state of shock from these spooky new surroundings. However, there’s a bright light in the form of her neighbor, a sexy veterinarian who is inclined to help Lark get to the bottom of this haunting…and maybe spend some time together in the bedroom. I must say the characters in this novel were the standout feature from start to finish. Jesse, our veterinary hero, is an absolute dreamboat.

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I appreciated the fact that he never thought Lark’s descriptions of her ghostly encounters were the result of her being crazy, or out of touch with reality. He believed her from day one. As for our female lead, you have to admire her tenacity when facing this ghost. As mysterious happenings start to occur with more frequency, you almost want Lark to get angry and scream out, “Just tell me what you want already!” Or maybe that’s just what I would be tempted to do in a similar situation. Enough with the creepy crying and shoving picture frames off of walls, simply tell me what you need to move on. Instead, we see a beautiful reflection of sympathy emerge from Lark as she contemplates how this ghost could very well be a family member, and she feels obligated to help. The ability to tap into those feelings of compassion, even when fearing what this ghost might be capable of, truly spoke to the strength of her character.

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A Haunting and a Romance

While Lark and Jesse try to get to the bottom of who this ghost is, and why he/she has unfinished business, we see a relationship start to develop between them. Lark is hesitant to place too much blind faith in Jesse following a recently horrendous breakup with her fiance, but this mysterious haunting constantly brings these two together. I was definitely a fan of the mystery surrounding this haunting, as well as witnessing the development of Jesse and Lark’s romance, but I do think the intermingling of the two story lines was slightly off balance. Personally, I would have liked to see a bit more interaction between Lark and her ghostly companion interspersed throughout the book. While I certainly appreciated the fact that Lark never broke down or cowered in the presence of this apparition, I would have loved to see a scene where Lark and the ghost actually exchanged a few words in conversation. Instead the ghost always dissipates when Lark tries to initiate a discussion.

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Throughout the novel we’re constantly wondering how it was that this ghost met their untimely end, and ultimately we see everything play out in a climactic vision towards the very end of the book. This was definitely a suspenseful final scene, but it would have been neat to see Lark personally uncover more of the details surrounding this mystery as the story progressed. Instead we see her rely more on the town gossip which Jesse reports back to her, rather than doing any of the investigating herself. For example, Jesse’s mother proves to be a useful resource in providing some of the history behind the house and the previous owners, and yet we never see a scene involving Lark speaking to his mother directly. All of these conversations happen “off-screen”, and we see Jesse come back to Lark with a brief summary. Ultimately I was fully enthralled with the final reveal of who this ghost was, but I wanted more snippets of this story to emerge throughout the book rather than saving everything for one final reveal at the end.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: I’m not always a huge fan of ghost stories, but Kathryn Knight’s are proving to be some of my favorites. The characters constantly draw you in, and you can’t help but wonder how everything will come together. While I really loved Jesse and Lark’s connection, it did seem at times that our ghost story was kind of pushed aside to focus more on their romance. It left the novel feeling slightly unbalanced, especially when we see all of our questions answered in one final vision at the very end of the book. However, it was still an exciting read that had an interesting mix of romance, suspense, adorable animals, a passionate moment in the rain, and a ghost with a tale to tell.

Smut Level: Jesse is a dream! A love machine who can bring a bit of steam 🙂

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Wicked Whale Publishing. 213 Pages.

The Impassioned Choice by Rebecca Hefner

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

What’s it About?

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

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

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

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Cue the Waterworks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Handsome Death by Sara Dobie Bauer

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

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Brought Right to the Edge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HANDSOME DEATH BLURB

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.