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.

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.

Savage Urges by Suzanne Wright

When you find a woman who knows how to interpret your grunts, well that’s a woman worth keeping. Even if she is a lone wolf.

What’s it About? 

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She’s a lone wolf with a cause. As a volunteer at a shelter for lone shifters—the same one that rescued her—Makenna Wray has dedicated her life to finding homes for its residents. And when she discovers that a teen in her care is related to Ryan Conner, the broody, handsome-as-sin enforcer of the Phoenix Pack, she’s eager to help connect the two. She just wasn’t prepared to feel a connection of her own.

Lone wolves are loners for a reason—and most of them bad. Or so Ryan assumes until he meets the mysterious Makenna. Quirky and sensual, she seems to enjoy riling him, especially when she refuses to discuss her past. Although there is no mating bond, he’s sure she’s the one. All he has to do is be patient and wait. But when another pack’s sinister Alpha comes sniffing around, threatening Makenna and her shelter, this enforcer is ready to let his wolf off the leash.

First Impressions

What I always find so unique about this series is how in each book our main couple often discovers they are mates in different ways. It’s never the same big reveal on repeat every time, which can sometimes happen when dealing with a series of this length. In this novel, what makes it all the more interesting is that close-mouthed Ryan is the one who first discovers they are destined to be together, and he has to try and convince the seemingly carefree Makenna of their mating link. Such a complex role reversal that we haven’t really seen before.

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Although she feels an undeniable chemistry with Ryan, Makenna is hesitant to acknowledge they are mates in case it isn’t actually true. As the story progresses, we uncover that her hesitations aren’t just related to her bond with Ryan, but with the Phoenix Pack as a whole. Makenna has been a lone wolf since she was a little girl, and fears that by joining a pack it means they might eventually abandon her. We haven’t really been introduced to any lone wolf characters in this series before, but their stories draw you in where you just want to learn more. Combine that with a somewhat eccentric female lead and a male whose literal job is to protect his pack? You can’t help but be entertained.

A Threat to Loners

The suspenseful story line in this book was definitely a standout within the series. Makenna works at a shelter for loners who are on the run, and their safety is being threatened by an alpha wolf who wants to claim the shelter for his own. The shelter itself provides us with a slew of new and lovable characters. However, we can see that it isn’t the only dramatic point in the novel, although it is sort of the center point from which all the drama unfolds.

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We have Ryan’s nephew who is on the run from a hurtful pack who wants him back under any means necessary, and it simply wouldn’t be a Phoenix Pack novel without a few human extremists running around demanding blood. Again, all of these issues involve the shelter in some way, which simultaneously heightens the suspense, and threatens the existence of the shelter as it is attacked form multiple enemies. Ryan comes to help the shelter, but so does his entire pack. It makes Makenna question if the lone wolf lifestyle is really for her anymore.

A Continuing Theme

As is often the case with the novels in this series, I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed with how the drama progressed. There’s always a spurt of introduction to it at the very beginning, and it all comes together for a climactic end, but it’s pretty absent from the middle section of the novel. However, this in no way means the middle part isn’t interesting. Far from it!

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Seeing Makenna try to make the tough-as-nails Ryan loosen up, and him trying to convince her of their mating link was thoroughly entertaining. It’s just a shame that the dramatic elements are always pushed to the back burner. That being said, I will admit that this novel probably does some of the best work in the series of trying to weave those suspenseful points into as much of the story as possible. While not perfect, it’s definitely an improvement from the last few Phoenix Pack stories.

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 5. I can’t wait to see what comes next in this series as a wolf shifter falls for a raven. Inter-species y’all!!

Should you read it? I really do enjoy this series, and this novel was superior to some of the others which came before it. The characters are relatable and lovable, even if they are wolves. That’s something else about this series which is utterly fascinating. So many of the social scenarios concerning rival factions, prejudices, and outsiders can be drawn to issues which we see in our own society today. Who knew you’d be able to see such stark parallels in a paranormal series about wolves?!?!

Smut Level: This book will make you drool like a wolf with how hot and steamy it can get.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 318 Pages.

Vengeance by Shana Figueroa

What makes this female private investigator different than any other? Well…her magical vagina for one.

What’s it About? 

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Corruption. Greed. Illicit sex. Murder. Private investigator Valentine Shepherd thinks she’s seen it all, and her strange ability to glimpse the future gives her an edge no one else in the world has. But when her fiancé is killed trying to exonerate his client, billionaire Max Carressa, Val makes it her personal mission to bring the people responsible to justice, no matter the cost. Convinced the two men are linked by more than attorney-client privilege, she enlists Max’s help in her investigation and gets more than she bargained for. On the run, Val and Max must uncover who wants them dead and why. The answer leads them to a conspiracy that has Val herself at its center. She doesn’t understand how or why, but time is running out to expose the truth and escape the danger she knows is coming . . .

First Impressions

Mkay, you just know that when a book starts off with a magical vagina it’s gonna be unique. And when we find out that Val isn’t the only with supernatural genitals? Well, stand back ladies and gentlemen. How exactly are Val’s lady bits special? She has visions of the future whilst getting it on. Definitely a party trick you don’t see very often. The one downside to this “gift” is that Val never really gets to experience the pleasure of an orgasm. She gets the build up, and the aftermath, but the boom moment causes her to pass out in a vision. Not sure how I’d feel about that to be honest. Especially considering her visions usually involve seeing someone’s death.

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On the Run

While Val’s visions can sometimes prove useful, she discovers they aren’t always accurate. Case in point, when she envisions her lawyer fiancé question a possible witness who could help with one of his cases, she never saw him get run down and killed by an unknown assailant. In an effort to uncover the truth about his death, she eventually crosses paths with Max Carressa, a mysterious billionaire accused of murdering his own father.

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Needless to say, it’s been a rather stressful week for Val Shepherd! Not only is she witness to her fiancé’s murder, but she’s trying to avoid being killed herself as she attempts to solve his murder. All of this is further complicated by the fact that, in a way, Max is someone she’s been searching for for a large portion of her life. Or someone like him anyway. He’s the first person she’s ever met who has the same abilities that she does. Val does put up a valiant effort to fight her growing attraction to Max, but when they discover they both share the same sexual gift, we know it’s just a matter of time before they get busy seeing visions together. With an ability grounded in sex, it seems meeting someone else with the same gift heightens their feelings of arousal. Poor girl didn’t stand a chance!

Magical Genitals Collide

As the novel progresses I was curious to find out if Max and Val’s eventual first time together would be out of necessity to find out key information in a vision, or from a development of real feelings for each other. Interestingly enough, it’s sort of a combination of both. Val senses a growing attraction to Max that can no longer be ignored, so she kind of uses her gift as an excuse to finally get physically close to him.

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Something I did find particularly interesting about their supernatural power is how it influenced their sexual dynamic. In most romance novels, we often see a male lead who wants to make himself last as long as possible, while giving his woman as many orgasms as possible. However, for Max and Val they both try to delay the inevitable in order to prolong their pleasure. The fact is, they each only have one shot before they literally pass out in a vision. In their efforts to make it last, they often talk about other topics to keep their mind off it. In addition, they can’t necessarily come together, or else risk passing out on top of each other and squishing some rather important bits and pieces. Like a true gentleman, Max lets Val come first before taking his own pleasure with a desperate attempt to try and pass out beside her.

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One benefit to their strong libido is that although they can only come once at a time, they can quickly regroup after their visions and go at it again. Seeing as Val often foresees death of some kind you’d think it would kind of spoil the mood, but nope! They are ready and raring to go pretty quickly.

Building Suspense and Leading Characters

While Val and Max explore their visions together we also have the underlying story line of her fiancé’s murder, and uncovering a conspiracy rooted in politics and greed. There’s quite a lot of suspense towards the end which lasts for a good chunk of the novel. Definitely nice that it wasn’t a wam, bam, thank you ma’am kind of deal. I was also initially worried that their ability to see the future might make the end of the book less exciting, but that wasn’t the case either as both Val and Max desperately try to alter the course of events which could lead to their deaths.

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I will say there are a LOT of moving pieces in this novel, including a plethora of different characters, motives, and a seemingly endless number of interconnecting story lines. At times it was tricky to keep everything straight, and you can tell some aspects weren’t fully explored so that they can be featured more prominently in a future novel. While I definitely understand the appeal of this for certain plot points, I felt it sort of detracted from us getting to know our main leading lady on a deeper level.

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Considering Val was a former sergeant in the army it means she’s literally a bad ass, and one woman I would never want to cross. Unfortunately, it was also a smidge difficult to like her at times, or connect with her on an emotional level. After mourning the loss of her fiancé it seemed like Val sort of shut off her emotions in order to move on and focus on finding his killer. In a way this also closes herself off to us as the audience. Honestly, I couldn’t help but see Max as a more compelling character due to the fact that we uncover a significant portion of his back story, and get a good glimpse of his hardships and inner turmoil. I wish we had been offered the same for Val, specifically in relation to the impact of her sister’s untimely death, and her developing relationship with Max. It’s definitely possible we’ll see more of this in future novels, but I think a brief window into her personality would have helped us connect with her.

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

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Series: Valentine Shepherd, book 1. There’s an unexpected twist at the end which sets things up for a sequel. Not a cliffhanger per se, but it will leave you wondering what happens next.

Should you read it? The ending of the novel was definitely my favorite, as we see all the various plot points come together for one climactic finish. It does take a while for the story to develop, and with there being so many different characters and interwoven plots it sort of feels like you’re being unwillingly pulled in a multitude of different directions. In addition to the magical genitals, there is also a larger supernatural connection which is briefly touched upon towards the end of the novel. Not really sure how I feel about it at this point.

Smut Level: This book has pretty much every combination you can imagine under the sun. We’ve got m/f, f/f, m/m and m/m/f. I guess the only version missing is f/f/m?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Forever Yours Publishing. 336 Pages.

 

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.

Dark Instincts by Suzanne Wright

Goodness gracious golly gee, this book definitely starts off with a bang! Nothing like an attempted kidnapping and an overturned car to get your juices flowing.

What’s it About? 

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It happens whenever wolf shifter Roni Axton is near Marcus Fuller: a crackle of sexual awareness that’s intoxicating…and deeply annoying. Marcus is a pack enforcer who oozes power, but Roni is lethal in her own right—nothing like the flirty females who flock around him. Even still, his possessive gaze makes one thing clear. Marcus has singled her out for seduction, and he wants to make her sit up and beg.

No matter how aloof and unfazed Roni acts, Marcus can tell she wants him. When a brutal attack by a jackal pack forces them to work together, it’s the perfect opportunity for Marcus to chip away at her defenses—until he falls into his own trap, completely unprepared for the intensity of their connection. Roni is the only one who’s ever seen past his shifter charm and discovered the man hiding beneath it. And for Marcus, claiming Roni once will mean needing her forever.

First Impressions

I’m now four books into this Phoenix Pack series, and I’m starting to notice that each novel follows a very particular arch from start to finish. At the start we are always presented with some kind of interesting conflict or suspense, and this novel in particular had probably the most dramatic opening scene of any book in the series so far. Roni is trapped in an overturned car, and is desperately struggling to fight off a pack of jackal shifters from kidnapping the child of the alpha and beta of the Phoenix Pack. Nail biting start that draws you in, guaranteed.

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Then things slow down a bit story wise as we have a male and female lead who start to explore their sexual attraction for one another. They are undoubtedly mates, even if they can’t admit it to themselves yet. Fast forward through all the sexy times, and in the last 10% of each novel we always see the resurgence of our main conflict point, which is resolved in a fabulous display of pack strength. Voilà. There you go. Not gonna lie, this was probably the most disappointing book in the series so far for me, as it followed this arch to the letter, with very little deviation. Quite predictable.

Pack Combos and Ignored Villains

This novel has character overload! Not only do we have our two main leads, but we also have the mates from the previous three novels of the series, the blending of both the Phoenix and Mercury packs, human extremists and jackal shifters. It was honestly very difficult to keep them all straight, as well as understand the dynamics between all the pairs. This novel started off so strong, but then unfortunately just tapered off into nothing. Look, I get we have a romance novel here, and we need to focus on the development of Roni and Marcus’ relationship. However, to have such an intense start with a dramatic kidnapping attempt, and then switch to basically no mention of it for a large portion of the book was a total let down.

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Especially considering I was really excited to see that we were dealing with jackals. I was hoping to learn more about a different species within the series, but it’s not really touched upon all that much. As is a theme with most of the books in this series, we never really get to know our villain either. We are just aware that they’re lurking in the background plotting dastardly deeds, but there’s no real character introduction before the villain ultimately reappears for one final battle. Having more than just a surface level look at the enemy could really enhance the sense of struggle throughout the entire series.

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From Bad-ass to Damsel

The biggest disappointment for me in regards to this novel was the ending, and the stagnation of Roni’s womanly independence. Throughout this book, and even in the last book for that matter, Roni is portrayed as the ultimate bad-ass. She is a dominant female who can stand up for herself, sucking on a lollipop the whole time. Roni acknowledges that it’s ok if she’s dominated in the bedroom, but the girl knows how to give as good as she gets. She was actually the one to mark Marcus first, but Roni manages to distinguish very early on in their relationship the difference between possession and control. While she’s fine with Marcus doing the former in bed, she won’t stand if he does the latter in their day to day life.

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Fast forward to the end of the novel, where everything has been building up to one final confrontation between Roni and our jackal leader villain. Warning: spoilers ahead. I’m telling you guys, I was totally pumped for this ultimate showdown. Unleash the girl power Roni, and kick his ass to the curb!! Unfortunately, when push comes to shove we find that she actually can’t do it by herself. Marcus has to come along and rescue her. Now, I totally would have been ok with this if they had done like, a back-to-back teamwork fight off of jackals, but that’s not the case here. Roni is literally lying on the floor dying, and Marcus has to come and finish the job for her. Where she failed in her confrontation with evil, Marcus succeeds and saves the day. While this might be a victory for our Phoenix pack, I was really keeping my fingers crossed that Roni could have been the hero in the end.

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Series: Phoenix Pack, book 4.

Should you read it? I just wasn’t impressed with this one. It felt like the focus wasn’t always on Marcus and Roni, as there were all the other characters from the previous novels making an appearance. In the end though, the disjointed mix of suspense and romantic story lines was the main factor of why this book didn’t do it for me like the others.

Smut Level: We’re dealing with wolf shifters here. Undoubtedly we’ll deal with some animalistic urges and…mounting.

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

Carnal Secrets by Suzanne Wright

Ok, I have a question for ya. Why is it that male wolf shifters can always smell the arousal of their female mates, whereas the females only get an increased scent of woods and pine for their male counterpart? Doesn’t exactly seem fair, does it? Could also make certain situations hella awkward!!

What’s it About? 

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Half-shifter Shaya Critchley may hold a submissive role in her pack, but she’s done taking orders. After her Alpha wolf mate refused to claim her—but committed to interfering in her life—she took off. Now she hides from him, posing as a human in a town full of anti-shifter extremist groups. She thinks he’ll never find her again, and that suits her just fine. But she’s wrong.

Nick Axton can barely control his feelings for Shaya, but he could never claim her—not if he truly cares for her. The degenerative brain condition he keeps secret would ultimately leave her with a burden rather than a mate. But when Shaya runs away, Nick can’t bear the thought of never seeing her again. After tracking her down, he discovers Shaya’s feisty and passionate side in the process…a side he’d never seen before. Under the menacing gazes of territorial local packs and violent human extremists, Nick vows to finally claim the spirited Shaya…and despite her initial resistance, Shaya just might find his fiery determination to be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

First Impressions

This was definitely an enjoyable continuation of the Phoenix Pack series, as this story takes us away from the other pack members for a large majority of the novel. This allows us to meet some new characters along the way; some are delightfully awesome, others are homicidal psychopaths. It’s all good fun! Another way this novel sets itself apart from the others in the series is that our two lead characters, Nick and Shaya, knew upon first meeting they were mates. No confusion about it! Their mating did create some added complications though. As alpha of his pack, Nick doesn’t want to claim Shaya because she is a submissive wolf, meaning she would constantly be challenged by other females who could push out dominant vibes over her. To escape the pain of being near her mate without being claimed, Shaya runs away. Little did she know Nick would give up being alpha of his pack to come after her. But come on, we all knew he wouldn’t let her get away!

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Wholesome Little Town

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was so distinct from the others in the series so far. Yes, we have two mates struggling to come together, but in this instance we also have the added complication of battling human extremists. Unlike books 1 and 2, which dealt more with feuds between or within packs, this dealt with a battle between species. And I gotta say, humans can kind of be major dicks!

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Within this small town Shaya settled down in there is a group of human extremists who want shifters removed from their society; tagged and registered. If that doesn’t work they’re willing to go to ever greater lengths. In this case, the extremists have even created a game preserve where they take captured shifters to be hunted by other humans. Good God Shaya, could you have picked a shittier town to settle down in?! Seriously, it’s like we’ve wandered onto a filming of the Purge: Shifter edition. Definitely creepy, yet also a clever way to demonstrate a threat which impacts all shifters, not just one particular pack.

That Time of the Month

In addition to hearing more about the interactions and obstacles facing shifters and humans, I also liked that we got to learn some more day-to-day aspects of shifters that are rarely discussed. For example, did you know that female shifters have periods?! Shocker!! To quote this book directly, “the shifter menstrual cycle is a bitch.” I mean, you’ve got both the female and wolf to contend with, throwing around all kinds of hostile attitude. No male shifter wants to be around that much irritability. I don’t know why, but I just loved this little detail. Let’s face it, you don’t usually read much about this monthly occurrence in romance novels! The fact that Nick chooses to stay by Shaya when most other male wolves would run for the woods means I might officially be in love with him.

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Matters of Trust

Although Nick gives up his pack to pursue Shaya, she doesn’t initially welcome him with open arms. Trust is definitely an issue in their relationship. For Shaya, she has difficulty accepting Nick into her life considering he rebuffed her from his so many times. To turn your back on your mate is unheard of, and it’s a lasting pain. An event from Shaya’s past also makes it difficult for her to trust men in general. Her first lover tricked her into thinking they were mates, when all he really wanted was to get into her pants.

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As for Nick, events from his own past impact his relationship with Shaya. When he was young, Nick killed a human, and maimed two others who raped his sister. Because Shaya is half human, he thinks she’ll shy away from him after learning the truth. He simply forgot she is also half shifter, which means her loyalties don’t automatically side with humans.

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Nick also has debilitating headaches, and he refuses to go to a female healer for help. The reason being that this healer also has the hots for Nick, and he doesn’t want her scent on him when he’s around Shaya. If ever there was a need for a wolf shifter version of Craigslist calling all male healers this would be it! Eventually his headaches become so terrible he starts to lose his memory, and he decides he’s going to leave Shaya rather than become her burden. Dude! Tell her what’s up, and go to a healer already! I’m sure she’d be supportive of that decision!! Just take a bath if you need to get the other woman’s scent off ya.

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Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 3. Gotta say, I’m really enjoying this paranormal series!

Should you read it? Overall a good read with an intense ending. I do think there could have been a smoother blend between scenes of threatening human extremists and Nick and Shaya learning to trust each other. It felt kind of stop and go at times. The novel starts with him pursuing her to give him another chance, but as things progress and Nick’s headaches worsen we find that Shaya is the one who has to go after him, and convince him to stay. Nice parallel there!

Smut Level: Nick leaves marks all over Shaya’s body. But they’re the good, paranormal claiming mark kind!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 377 Pages.

 

Wicked Cravings by Suzanne Wright

Another female shifter with inner wolf problems!

What’s it About?

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For years, wolf shifter Jaime Farrow has harbored a not-so-secret crush on gorgeous Dante Garcea. But the time has come for Jaime to face facts: despite her best efforts, Dante just isn’t interested. And that’s probably for the best. The last thing Jaime needs is for anyone—particularly Dante—to find out about her little “problem.” The one that haunts her past and threatens to destroy her and everyone she loves…As the pack Beta, workaholic Dante Garcea doesn’t have time for distractions—especially the kind promised by Jaime Farrow. It’s all he can do to keep her at arm’s length and his desire at bay. Yet when her flirtations abruptly end, Dante becomes suspicious. She’s hiding something, something big, and unless he can convince her to trust him, their entire pack could be in danger. He knows hot-headed Jaime will resist him…but Dante never takes no for an answer.

First Impressions

This sequel in the Phoenix Pack series definitely had a slower start than the first book, and overall wasn’t as intense. That being said, I must say I did like the lead characters much better. They were more likable and less cocky than the alphas of the pack. Jaime has always had a crush on Dante, and has been following him around like a lost puppy for years. One day, she overhears him in a conversation with another pack member, where he mentions he could never have a relationship with someone like Jaime. Feeling slighted, Jaime decides she must finally relent, and avoid interacting with him whenever possible. As could be expected with similar playground antics, Dante finds himself drawn to her even more. Pay attention to meeeeee Jaime!!!

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The Struggle of a Beta

Unbeknownst to Jaime, Dante has actually always had an eye for her as well. He’s found himself drawn to her very presence, but Dante has vowed to never be with someone in his own pack. As beta of the Phoenix Pack, he realizes that if he were to claim a female, his attentions would eventually be split between his mate and pack business. Dante believes that he would inevitably choose his pack over his mate, and he would never want to put any woman through that, least of all Jaime. However, this doesn’t prevent them from entering into a sexual relationship! Instead of “friends with benefits”, it’s more like “pack members without the expectations of mating”.

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Living with a Wolf

I must say, I find the inner wolf identity of these characters to be a rather unique feature of this series. Although their wolf is an essential part of their character, it’s also a distinct and independent feature of their personality at the same time. They even refer to their wolves in the third person as though it’s another character entirely.

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As mentioned earlier, Jaime has some severe wolf problems. She refuses to let her wolf out anymore because of a tragic event from her past. By continually suppressing her wolf, the animal becomes increasingly restless, and tries to overpower Jaime. Because of this, Jaime vows that she doesn’t want to discover who her true mate is, as she could never ask him to put up with her dysfunctional wolf. Unfortunately this just makes her wolf even more restless. Such a vicious circle!!

Series: Phoenix Pack, book 2. The first book had more action, but I still enjoyed this one. Definitely looking forward to more from this series!

Should you read it? Pretty easy to see where the plot was headed with this one. Both Dante and Jaime have put up a wall where they don’t want to find their mate, which makes them blind to what’s right in front of them. Then you’ve got her wolf ultimately coming out to play, and some rather jealous/overbearing female foes to contend with. Still an enjoyable read though!

Smut Level: These two like to push each other, both in and out of the bedroom. They also like to bite and claw each other in the sack!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 395 Pages.

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Feral Sins by Suzanne Wright

A sassy alpha female wolf with lots of spunk? Check. A dirty talking alpha male with possessive tendencies? Check. A final wolf battle between bitter enemies? Check. You’ve got all the makings of a great paranormal romance read with this one!

What’s it About?

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When female wolf shifter Taryn Warner first encounters Trey Coleman, an alpha male wolf shifter with a dangerous reputation, she’s determined to resist his charms. After all, Trey—who was only fourteen when he defeated his own father in a duel, winning the right to be alpha of his pack—can’t have anything to offer the talented healer besides trouble, or so she thinks. Taryn finds herself drawn in by Trey’s forceful demeanor and arctic-blue eyes, and she eventually agrees to enter an uneasy alliance with him. If the two succeed in convincing their respective packs that they’ve chosen each other as mates, Trey will win valuable political allies, while Taryn will escape an odious arranged mating.

But there are a lot of potential pitfalls to this plan—including the very real possibility that the wolf shifters, overwhelmed by their growing attraction to each other, will be unable to maintain the clear heads needed to pull off the deception.

First Impressions

I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romances, especially those involving wolves, but I gotta say even I enjoyed this one. It carries the unique aspect in the fact that Taryn is latent, meaning she is unable to shift into her wolf form. This results in her pack, and even her own father, treating her like crap. When her dad tries to marry her off to a sadistic creep for the benefit of a powerful alliance, Taryn’s decided she’s had enough, and that she must abandon her pack. Enter the sexy alpha, Trey, with an offer to mate to fix both their problems for the time being. Although their mating initially seems convenient, it’s quite difficult for them to accept internally, as both of their true mates died when they were younger.

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Taryn especially doesn’t want to offend the memory of her deceased mate and childhood friend by entering into a false mating with a wolf known to go feral. However, as they spend more time together, especially in the bedroom, they start to realize that they have a deeper connection than either expected. An intriguing start to the novel which culminates in a powerful ending involving an unexpected traitor in Trey’s own pack, and a final battle between wolves. Unfortunately, I will say the middle part of the novel was somewhat disappointing, as the final conflict is barely mentioned at all. Instead, the main focus is Taryn’s integration into Trey’s pack as alpha female.

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Alpha Female Indeed

Hands down I must say my favorite feature of this novel was Taryn. Such a refreshing character with enough sass and sarcasm to hold her own in any situation. The sarcasm in particular was something I thoroughly enjoyed, as it was just the perfect amount to provide some comedic relief in stressful situations, yet not too much where you can feel like the character can’t take anything seriously. Sort of reminded me of myself I guess!

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I also loved how strong Taryn’s character was. True, she initially relies on Trey to help her out of a bind, but after that she can really stand up for herself. From verbal sparring matches with Trey’s grandma, to refusing to act all jealous and intimidated by one of Trey’s former flings. Taryn doesn’t let the negative opinions surrounding her latency bring her down when trying to prove her worth and status in this new pack. Quite admirable!

Sexy Yet Uncomfortable

Another rather interesting feature of this novel revolved around Taryn and Trey’s sexual relationship. No question, off the charts sexy, with plenty of dirty talk to make even the most seasoned romance novel enthusiast blush. However, I must say at times I thought it was kind of…uncomfortable. Taryn is an alpha female, and Trey is an alpha male, meaning that their inner wolves were constantly battling for dominance in the bedroom. As for who came out on top? Well, it was always Trey.

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At one point he tries to explain it away by saying that just because she submits to him it doesn’t mean she has to be submissive. Ok, I kind of get it, but at the same time when their sexual relationship first started there was a lot of Taryn struggling, saying “no” during sex, and fighting against him. Although we are told that technically it’s just her wolf fighting him, it was still kind of disturbing to read at times. I mean, if you were to approach it without the paranormal element involved, you’d be concerned for this woman’s safety. Just goes to show how context can have such an impact on how we view their physical relationship in the beginning!

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Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 1. I’ll be continuing with this series.

Should you read it? I feel like this novel could have been condensed a bit more, specifically in the middle when not much was going on, and there was practically no mention of the upcoming battle with Trey’s uncle. Still a unique and exciting paranormal read with a female lead I really enjoyed.

Smut Level: We’ve got enough dirty talk and explicit sexual detail to fill a whole book. Although, I was slightly confused due to the menage warning on Goodreads, and unless I totally dazed out, or had a different version of the novel, there was no menage. Therefore, I guess I was expecting more! Trey is still downright filthy though, especially when Taryn offers herself over to him to do with as he pleases for his birthday. Quite the present!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 428 Pages

Bait N’ Witch by Abigail Owen

Another great addition to the Legendary Consultants series by Abigail Owen!

What’s it About?

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In love with the witch hunter father of her charges…Rowan McAuliffe has been hiding most of her life. Secretly trained in her powers by an unusual source, she’d been taught not to trust anyone. Especially other witches. However, after she was forced to perform a hateful act against her will, she now hides from the Mage High Council who seek answers, and possibly her life.

Greyson Masters is the Council’s best enforcer–a witch hunter who lays down the law. Despite the danger of his job, Greyson is also raising his triplet daughters. Alone. Budding new witches who display an alarming combined power no one understands. Too bad he hasn’t got a clue how to deal with them.

Little does Greyson realize that the new nanny sent to him by Legendary Consultants is the very witch he is hunting. When the truth is revealed, can these two opposing forces find a way to listen to their hearts? Or will Greyson have to follow orders and kill Rowan–the one woman who has made his soul come alive?

First Impressions

When this novel first started, I couldn’t help but feel like it was the Sound of Music meets Harry Potter. And honestly, you can’t really go wrong with that combination! I mean, you’ve got the delightful nanny who comes to help look after the sometimes rambunctious children. There might not be seven of them, but when you’re dealing with three teenage triplet witches, it’s a pretty close comparison.

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Then you have the strict father who is all about following the rules, yet still has an obvious love for his children, and a growing desire for the nanny who is having such a positive impact on all of their lives. There might not be any singing or Nazis in this book, but you’ve got  witches, werewolves, a Mage High Council, and plenty of sexual tension that is just bursting at the seams! And I’m talking about the seams of Grey’s pants of course.

Nymphs, Werewolves and Witches, Oh My!

What I love about this series is that although there is a continuing story line throughout each of the three novels, we are offered a different perspective of the events which have transpired based on the characters who are being featured as the leads in any given book. An added bonus is the fact that each novel deals with a new kind of paranormal couple.

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In the first book you had a nymph and a demi-god, in book two you had a pair of alpha werewolves, and in this one you have some very talented witches with an unbreakable bond between them. You still see a reference to the characters and events from the previous novels, yet by constantly switching up the “species”, as it were, it’s basically a guarantee to never get bored!

Living with a Witch Hunter

A large portion of this novel deals with Rowan trying to hide her true identity from Grey, as he is actually a witch hunter who has been tasked with hunting her down. This complication definitely adds to the building sexual tension between them, as every time they get too close Rowan has to pull away, or risk discovery.

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The one thing I would have liked more information on was the evil werewolf forces chasing after Rowan. This feature was brought in rather quickly towards the end of the novel, and I felt like we really didn’t get to understand who this werewolf was, or why she was dead set on getting revenge against Rowan. Yes, technically the motive was mentioned, but I think a few more scenes involving this enemy would have added to a deeper understanding of the story.

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

Series: Legendary Consultants, book 3. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

Should you read it? Another great read in this paranormal romance series. I think the enemy werewolf could have been introduced a bit earlier on in the story, but once again we have some amazing characters that you can’t help but root for to overcome the forces of evil and find a happily ever after.

Smut Level: Witch sex is the best. Nothing like casting a little protection spell between lovers to ensure a condom isn’t necessary. Freakin’ brilliant.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 193 Pages.

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