Category Archives: Contemporary

Review: Spells for the Dead (Soulwood, #5) by Faith Hunter

Spells for the Dead (Soulwood #5)Spells for the Dead by Faith Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Souls for the Dead
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Soulwood; #5
Pages: 384
Publisher: Ace Books
Date: July 28, 2020

Summary:

Nell Ingram is a rookie PsyLed agent, using the powers she can channel from deep within the earth to solve paranormal crimes. Together with her team, she’s taken on the darkest magic and the direst foes. But she’ll need to tap into every ounce of power she has for her newest case.

Nell is called to the Tennessee mansion of a country music star and finds a disturbing scene–dead bodies rapidly decaying before everyone’s eyes. The witch on her team, T. Laine, knows this can only be one thing: death magic, a rare type of craft used to steal life forces. PsyLed needs to find this lethal killer fast. But when a paranormal-hating FBI agent tries to derail the investigation, they find themselves under attack from all sides.

Review:

This was an absolutely amazing book. At times, I held my breath due to the tension. At other times, I laughed out loud (Marilyn! When you read the book, you’ll understand). I have enjoyed all of these books, and the Jane Yellowrock ones, as well, but this one was my favorite.

Nell has grown so much as a woman and in her power. The relationship with Occam is warm and loving. I want a cat-man. Mud is in some ways a typical pre-teen and in others so exceptional due to her raising and her gifts. Nell definitely has her hands full with her.

All of my favorite characters make an appearance. Firewind, who I don’t want to like, is growing on me. Ricky-bo is also becoming likeable. There are hints of something unnamed going on with other team members and I can’t wait to find out what that is all about.

I have been in a terrible reading slump recently. This book has helped tremendously. It was engrossing, exciting, and so satisfying.

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A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, #1) by Darynda Jones

A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, #1)A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Bad Day for Sunshine
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Sunshine Vicram, #1
Pages: 400
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: April 7, 2020

Summary:

Sheriff Sunshine Vicram finds her cup o’ joe more than half full when the small village of Del Sol, New Mexico, becomes the center of national attention for a kidnapper on the loose.

Del Sol, New Mexico is known for three things: its fry-an-egg-on-the-cement summers, its strong cups of coffee—and a nationwide manhunt? Del Sol native Sunshine Vicram has returned to town as the elected sheriff–an election her adorably meddlesome parents entered her in–and she expects her biggest crime wave to involve an elderly flasher named Doug. But a teenage girl is missing, a kidnapper is on the loose, and all of it’s reminding Sunny why she left Del Sol in the first place. Add to that trouble at her daughter’s new school and a kidnapped prized rooster named Puff Daddy, and Sunshine has her hands full.

Enter sexy almost-old-flame Levi Ravinder and a hunky US Marshall, both elevens on a scale of one to blazing inferno, and the normally savvy sheriff is quickly in over her head. Now it’s up to Sunshine to juggle a few good hunky men, a not-so-nice kidnapping miscreant, and Doug the ever-pesky flasher. And they said coming home would be drama-free. 

Review:

I love the Charlie Davidson books and I never thought the author would be able to write anything that I would enjoy as much.

I was wrong. I know. Shocker, right?

These books are so funny. They are set in a normal, not paranormal, world, but I use the term normal loosely. Del Sol, is a weird town. Even, no especially, the sheriff knows that it is weird. Sheriff Sunshine Vicram was raised in Del Sol, but left home when she was a teenager. Now in her thirties, she has returned to raise her daughter in the town she loved as a child. Let the drama ensue.

I love Sunshine’s snark. It really reminds me of Charlie. And I love how she has entire conversations in her head. I love how no one in the town seems completely normal, but they are all pretty much accepted anyway. I think I would like to live in Del Sol, but only if I could be friends with Sunshine. She is definitely a woman you want on your side.

My only problem right now is I received this book several months before publication. I have already read it twice and cannot wait for the sequel. There is not a cliffhanger (hate, hate, hate cliffhangers), but there is definitely more of the story to be told.

Just like the Charlie Davidson books, the Sunshine Vicram series is on autobuy.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Summoned to the Thirteenth Grave (Charlie Davidson, #13) by Darynda Jones

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave (Charley Davidson, #13)Summoned to Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Summoned to the Thirteenth Grave
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Charlie Davidson, #13
Pages: 304
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: January 15, 2019

Summary:

Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper extraordinaire, is pissed. She’s been kicked off the earthly plain for eternity – which is the appropriate amount of time to make a person stark raving mad. But someone’s looking out for her, and she’s allowed to return after a mere hundred years in exile. Is it too much to hope for that not much has changed? Apparently it is. Bummer.

She’s missed Reyes and her daughter, Beep, but now that she’s back on earth, it’s time to put to rest burning questions that need answers. What happened to her mother? How did she really die? Who killed her? And are cupcakes or coffee the best medicine? It all comes to a head in an epic showdown between good and evil in this final smart and hilarious novel.

Review:

There is no way this is the last Charlie Davidson book. It may be the last Grave book and future books may not focus on Charlie and Reyes, but there is still too much story left to tell for the series to be over. I have not heard anything officially, but there has to be a spinoff series focusing on Beep.

Like most, if not all, of these books the ending has a cliffhanger. Don’t worry, the author does a wonderful job of tying up loose ends, but she couldn’t leave well enough alone. One question. She ends the book with ONE QUESTION and I was “Wait! What?” So yes, there has to be a spinoff series.

I loved the book. Charlie is in her normal, snarky glory. I laughed out loud. I almost cried. In other words, a typical Charlie Davidson book. There were plots and subplots which I enjoyed, and they cleared up some issues that I didn’t even know I had. Old characters returned and we lost people I was not ready to lose. And I have to tell you, there is a character reveal that blew my mind!

My only problem with the book is I need a timeline. When did Reyes and Charlie first meet as adults? When was Beep born? How long did Charlie have amnesia? I guess I just need to re-read the entire series . . . and that’s a wonderful thing!

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Hot and Badgered (Honey Badgers, #1) by Shelly Laurenston

Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badgers, #1)Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Hot and Badgered
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Series: Honey Badgers, #1
Pages: 433
Publisher: Kensington
Date: March 27, 2018

Summary:

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.

Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up.

Review:

It’s been four years since Laurenston’s last shifter book Bite Me and it seems much longer. I was so disappointed when I heard she was not writing anymore books in the Pride series. Make no mistake, I love her dragons and crows, but I ADORE her shifters. This new book is listed as the first in a new series, but it is actually connected to the Pride series which makes it even better.

The best I can tell, Hot and Badgered takes place about seven or eight years after Bite Me. Several characters from the Pride series show up in this book and others are mentioned. As I say time and again, yes, you can read these books as stand alones, but I don’t recommend it. That goes for this book as well. There are plot points that just will not have as much impact if you don’t know the history of the characters.

Having said all that, Hot and Badgered, is wonderful. I had a hard time keeping the sisters straight at the beginning, but they have distinctive personalities and shifter traits. There was one aspect about their shifted forms that bothered me because it contradicted the earlier books, but it was explained later on and actually supported a major thread of the story. It’s so hard to talk about the best parts of the book because of spoilers.

Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is a wolf/honey badger hybrid. She is far too laid back for anyone to believe she is a badger until she’s not. Don’t piss her off. She and her sisters are dangerous.
Berg is a grizzly and all bear. He’s protective and seems more stable to me than other grizzly shifters. His personality seems more polar than grizzly. And you can tell I am a fan of these stories because that actually makes sense to me. And let me tell you, Charlie needs someone stable in her life.

I can’t really recommend this book if you are not already a Pride series reader. I think you will lose so much of the story if you don’t already understand the shifters’ world. If you are a fan, I don’t have to recommend it. I know any reader of Laurenston will be at the bookstore when they open to get this next installment in her world of shifters.

Now, when is the next book due out?

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5) by Patricia Briggs

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5; Mercy Thompson World - Complete, #15)Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Burn Bright
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega, #5; Mercy Thompson, #15
Pages: 384
Publisher: Ace Berkley
Date: March 6, 2018

Summary:

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…

Review:

It’s hard for me to believe I read my first Mercy Thompson book in 2012. It seems like I have known Mercy forever and yet it also seems like they are brand new. I love Mercy’s world and by extension, Charles’ and Anna’s world. When I read my first Alpha & Omega book, it was simply because it related to Mercy. I didn’t realize how much I would come to love them in their own right.

These two series are so interwoven I can not understand how anyone could read one without the other. There are numerous references between them that are not essential to understanding the stories, but certainly add to both. Burn Bright is no exception.

This book takes place immediately after the last Mercy Thompson book, Silence Fallen, and that situation explains why Bran has left the pack in Charles’ hands. Bran, oh Bran! I love you, but sometimes I want to slap you upside the head. Of course, I am certain my hand would come back without any fingers if I tried it, but I really think you need it.

Anyway, Bran is in charge of most, if not all, of the werewolves in the United States. His immediate pack consists of wolves who are too dangerous to live outside of his immediate supervision. These can be some scary wolves. However, we find out in this book that there are even more dangerous wolves called wildings. They are so damaged that they cannot even be part of Bran’s pack.

And someone is hunting them.

It is left up to Charles and Anna and a few of the other wolves to protect the wildings and find the bad guy. And this is where it gets interesting. One of the wolves who is helping is Bran’s mate Leah. No one likes Leah and that includes Bran to a certain extent. She is disliked in both the Mercy books and the Charles and Anna books. She just has that type of personality.

In this book, however, we find out so much more about Leah . . . and I’m going to leave it at that.

I did not see the ending coming. It worked. It was perfect. But I really didn’t see it coming.

And now I want the next book! Storm Curse, a Mercy book, is due out in May of 2019 AND I CANNOT WAIT!

This book was sent to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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The Escape Diaries (Life and Love on the Lam, #1) by Juliet Rosetti

The Escape Diaries (Life and Love on the Lam, #1)The Escape Diaries by Juliet Rosetti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Escape Diaries
Author: Juliet Rosetti
Series: Life and Love on the Lam, #1
Pages: 294
Publisher: Loveswept
Date: December 10, 2012
Summary:

Wrongly convicted of killing her philandering husband, Mazie Maguire is three years into her life sentence when fate intervenes—in the form of a tornado. Just like that, she’s on the other side of the fence, running through swamps and cornfields, big box stores and suburban subdivisions. Hoping to find out who really murdered her husband, Mazie must stay a few steps ahead of both the law and her mother-in-law, who would like nothing better than to personally administer Mazie the death penalty via lethal snickerdoodle. With the Feds in hot pursuit and the national media hyping her story, Mazie stumbles upon a vast political conspiracy and a man who might just be worth a conjugal visit—if she survives.

Review:
When I first read this book, I gave it a five star rating . . . but I never actually wrote a review. Well, it is time for that review and it most definitely still earns its five stars.

Although The Escape Diaries is classified as a romance, the romance is simply a side note. This book is a straight up comedy. I decided to re-read it because I have read several dark, intense novels lately. I needed a change of pace and it really delivered.

Mazie is in prison for murdering her husband who really needed to be done away with. She’s innocent of course, but no one believes her, especially her psychotic mother-in-law. Anyway, she escapes, with the help of a tornado, which starts the spiral of one improbable event after another.

There is a love interest, but that is not the most interesting part of the plot. It is the situations Mazie gets herself into and out of that make the book so much fun.

I did not realize there were sequels and I will definitely read them. I have to find out what other crazy things happen to Mazie. And really, things seem to happen to her. It’s not really her fault.

If you are a fan of Stephanie Plum or Izzy Spellman, you will love Mazie Maguire. Give her a try.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Hot Secrets (Tall, Dark, and Deadly, #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

Hot Secrets (Tall, Dark & Deadly #1)Hot Secrets by Lisa Renee Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Hot Secrets
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Tall, Dark, & Deadly; #1
Pages: 197
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Date: January 23, 2012

Summary:

The Walker Brothers…

Tall, dark, and deadly, these three brothers run Walker security. Each brother is unique in his methods and skills, but all share key similarities. They are passionate about those they love, relentless when fighting for a cause they believe in, and all believe that no case is too hard, no danger too dark. Dedication is what they deliver, results are their reward.

Book 1 HOT SECRETS:

Royce Walker, a former FBI Agent, who’s opened a private security firm with his brothers, has always had the hots for the prim, proper Assistant District Attorney, but considered her hand’s off because of a family connection. However, when danger threatens Lauren, he isn’t willing to stand by and watch her get hurt. Now the passion for survival is only rivaled by the passion burning between them. And that passion, might just be the death of them both.

Review:

I really hoped to like this book. The premise, hot, sexy bodyguard and prosecuting attorney being threatened, is a good one. And I did . . . like it. And that’s the best I can say about the book. I can’t even say what my problem was with it. The writing is decent, and as I said, the plot is interesting.

I just couldn’t make myself care about the characters. I did want to know who the bad guy was and the book kept me guessing.

I actually found myself more interested in the two brothers. I would like to know their stories, but not enough to spend any time reading the other books.

This title has 3.5 stars on Goodreads and is free on Kindle Unlimited right now. If it sounds like something you might like, give it a try. I know Lisa Renee Jones is a very popular author. It just didn’t do it for me.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Promise Not to Tell (Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2) by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to TellPromise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Promise Not to Tell
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2
Pages: 304
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she leaves her secrets behind . . .

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire… and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.

Review:

This is the second book in what will be a trilogy about three brothers who survived an early childhood in a cult. The first, When All the Girls Have gone, came out in 2016 and was wonderful. Of course, all of Jayne Ann Krentz’ books are wonderful.

In my opinion, these two books are a little darker than her earlier works. The focus is on the suspense rather than the romance. Make no mistake, the romance is there. It is just not the focus. As with all of her books, there is a strong, alpha male and a strong female that takes no guff from him. And, in my opinion, that’s where the humor comes into this book.

There is one scene where Cabot is upset with his family. He accuses Virginia of taking their side. She tells him:

“I’m not taking sides. I’m offering advice.”

“I don’t need advice.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you some. Don’t worry, it’s free.”

In an earlier scene, Virginia is “having words” with her grandmother and Cabot proves his intelligence.

He kept his mouth shut. A smart man did not step between two quarreling lionesses.

It is these moments of lightness that I consider a trademark of a JAK book right along with her alpha males and strong females.

Although this is the second book in a trilogy, it could be read without the first. I don’t recommend it, but you could. -grin- The mystery in this book is resolved, but there is an overarching plot which is not. It all goes back to the cult.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Tale of Two Kitties (Magical Cats, #9) by Sofie Kelly

A Tale of Two Kitties (A Magical Cats Mystery #9)A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Tale of Two Kitties
Author: Sofie Kelly
Series: Magical Cats, #9
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkeley
Date: September 5, 2017

Summary:

With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…

The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.

Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town’s history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don’t work for free…

Review:

Hercules and Owen! I love Hercules and Owen! I would hate to have to pick between the two of them for a favorite because they have such distinct personalities. For some reason, Hercules seems to be the more well read of the two while Owen is the one who “gets things done!”

Oh, did I mention they are cats . . . with special powers. Hercules can walk through walls — literally, while Owen can disappear — also literally. And no, after reading these books that doesn’t seem odd at all.

And yes, there are humans in these books that get into all kinds of trouble and have to have the cats help them out.

Hercules and Owen live with Kathleen who is the town librarian. I realize that is a cliche: cats and librarians. However, as I said the cats have special powers and although Kathleen is only human, she is smart enough to let them help her solve the many murders she seems to get involved in.

This book even starts with a dead body.

You’d think by now it wouldn’t bother me to step on a body in the middle of the kitchen floor, but I was in my sock feet and the body — missing its head, no surprise — was damp.

With cat slobber.

And I’m going to leave that right there. You can see why I enjoy these books so much.

A Tale of Two Kitties is number nine in the Magical Cats series. I have loved everyone of the books. There is an extensive cast of recurring characters, so you really want to read them in order. Actually, you don’t want to miss a one of them because they are just that good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Misconduct (Birmingham Rebels, #4) by Samantha Kane

Misconduct (Birmingham Rebels, #4)Misconduct by Samantha Kane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Misconduct
Author: Samantha Kane
Series: Birmingham Rebels, #4
Pages: 288
Publisher: Loveswept
Date: July 25, 2017

Summary:

Rookie running back Tom Kelly loves the perks of football stardom. Men, women—there’s no shortage of companionship for a pro athlete who’s hot, young, and willing, and Tom is definitely willing. But deep down he wants a committed three-way relationship, especially if the female in the middle is Carmina de la Cruz. The undeniably sexy Army veteran may not say much, but her body speaks loud and clear.

After a traumatic tour in Afghanistan, Carmina is struggling to regain her speech and rebuild her life. More than anything, she wants to feel like a woman again. Tom may be a wholesome All-American, but he knows just how she needs to be touched—and he’s not the only Rebel who arouses her interest. With his scorching intensity, Tom’s best friend leaves her wondering if two players might be better than one.

Danny Smith is no stranger to his team’s kinky reputation. He gave in to temptation once, but he’s not going down that road again. Sure, Carmina’s curves promise pleasure, but her eyes guarantee it comes with baggage—and Danny has enough of his own. Still, giving up control can feel so good. And when it comes to everything Danny craves, Carmina and Tom make the perfect team.

Review:

Although I am a big Samantha Kane fan (Brothers in Arms is the GREATEST!), I never expected to like the Birmingham Rebels series. I don’t like team sports, and I especially don’t like football, but these books are wonderful. And that says something . . . if I enjoy books that take place in a setting that I have no interest in, they must be good.

This one, which is book four, is no exception. Samantha Kane’s books have a continuing storyline, but there are no cliffhangers. It’s just that situations from previous books come up again and the team members and their mates show up as well. This entire series is like a story of an extended family. Obviously, it would be best to read them in order.

Anyway, Tom is the All-American-Boy who everybody loves. Carmina is recovering from injuries she received as a soldier in Afghanistan and is very self-conscious about the disability she is striving to overcome. Danny is angry. That is the best way to describe him. He has good reasons, but he has let his anger control everything in his life.

And that’s why this is a four star and not a five star book. Tom is great, but Carmina and Danny are still too focused on the past. Carmina considers herself broken and in need of fixing. Those are her words. She keeps poking herself in the head when she talks about her problems. Danny needs to get over the past. Yes, something terrible happened, but get over it and move on.

Of course, most of this works out at the end, and a wonderful thing about Samantha Kane’s books is that everything isn’t tied up in a beautiful bow. Life is not perfect. However, her characters are willing to work to make things as good as they can be.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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