Category Archives: Romance

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Title: The Bookshop of Second Chances
Author: Jackie Fraser
Series: n/a
Pages: 448
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date: May 4, 2021

Summary:

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. Her husband of nearly twenty years has just left her for one of her friends, and she is let go from her office job–on Valentine’s Day, of all days. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and shaggy, tulip-covered lawn. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting. The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s antique novel collection. His gruff attitude–fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord–tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t felt in a long time. As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.


Review:

I have read this book twice now and I have to say it was even better the second time. I liked it so much that I changed my 4-star to a 5-star review. I rarely give books a 5-star and never to an author I have never read before.

Obviously, I loved this book. It is a romance, but more than that it is a description of a woman’s recovery after having life kick her in the teeth. As the description says, Thea loses her job and her husband (the rat bastard) in a matter of weeks.

What she doesn’t know is that it will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.

She inherits a house from a great-uncle that she has only met four times. She can’t understand why it was left to her instead of a closer family member. Her uncle explains why in the will.

And this is why I love this book. It has the best lines in it. I could have done an entire review of just great lines. I won’t, but I will include this one.
Uncle Andrew states he left the house to Thea “whom I have only met on four occasions, but who each time was intent on reading rather than talking, which has always been my own preference.”

Since I feel the same way, this really appealed to me.

Anyway, she meets a man who’s a “right arse.” Everyone says so, even him. Fortunately, she just finds him amusing. Of course, she falls for him. I’m not giving anything away. It’s a romance after all, right?

There is no great mystery or secrets to be discovered. This is a book about relationships and is hysterically funny in places. I did have to Google a few terms because I am from the United States and this book is very British. I didn’t always get the slang.

I just have to say, “brown sauce” does not sound at all appealing.

I’ve already recommended this book to friends and my local librarian. It is truly a fun book to read.

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




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Breaking Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles, #4) by Shelly Laurenston

Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston

Title: Breaking Badger
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Series: Honey Badger Chronicles, #4
Pages: 368
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Date: August 31, 2021

Summary:

It’s instinct that drives Finn Malone to rescue a bunch of hard battling honey badgers. The Siberian tiger shifter just can’t bear to see his fellow shifters harmed. But no way can Finn have a houseful of honey badgers when he also has two brothers with no patience. Things just go from bad to worse when the badgers rudely ejected from his home turn out to be the only ones who can help him solve a family tragedy. He’s just not sure he can even get back into the badgers’ good graces. Since badgers lack graces of any kind…

Mads knows her teammates aren’t about to forgive the cats that were so rude to them, but moody Finn isn’t so bad. And he’s cute! The badger part of her understands Finn’s burning need to avenge his father’s death–after all, vengeance is her favorite pastime. So Mads sets about helping Finn settle his family’s score, which has its perks, since she gets to avoid her own family drama. Besides, fighting side by side with Finn is her kind of fun–especially when she can get in a hot and heavy snuggle with her very own growling, eye-rolling, and utterly irresistible kitty-cat…


Review:

As always, I was delighted to get a copy of a Shelly Laurenston book. It doesn’t matter which series or which pen name (G. A. Aiken) she is using, her books are my go-to favorites. And I absolutely love the honey badgers.

Many of my favorite characters showed up in this book. Charlie is one of my favorites and she was true to form. However, it is the number of newish characters that bothered me. Most, if not all, of them were introduced in the last book: Badger to the Bone. The new characters include four tiger brothers and their hybrid sister and four honey badger hybrid female friends. They’re all great characters, but that was too many personalities for me to keep track of all at once.

Did I enjoy the book? Definitely! Will I read it again? Of course. Is it one of my favorites? Afraid not.

One thing for sure. You really need to re-read Badger to the Bone before this one. You will be totally lost otherwise.


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




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The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose; #3) by Charlaine Harris

The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose #3)The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Russian Cage
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Gunnie Rose, #3
Pages: 304
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Date: February 23, 2021

Summary:

Picking up right where A Longer Fall left off, this thrilling third installment follows Lizbeth Rose as she takes on one of her most dangerous missions yet: rescuing her estranged partner, Prince Eli, from the Holy Russian Empire. Once in San Diego, Lizbeth is going to have to rely upon her sister Felicia, and her growing Grigori powers to navigate her way through this strange new world of royalty and deception in order to get Eli freed from jail where he’s being held for murder.

Russian Cage continues to ramp up the momentum with more of everything Harris’ readers adore her for with romance, intrigue, and a deep dive into the mysterious Holy Russian Empire.

Review:

Gunnie Rose used to have a simple life . . . at least by her standards. She transported and/or protected goods, whether they were living or not. She definitely kept out of the way of politics and magic users. Now, in spite of herself, Lizbeth Rose becomes involved with the politics of the Holy Russian Empire. Since that is where the magic users are trained, that means she is also involved with magic users known as Grigoris.

This is the third book in Harris’ Gunnie Rose series and I think it is the best one so far. The world building is pretty much done and the focus is more on the plot and relationships. I love that Lizbeth is developing a closer relationship with her newly discovered sister Felicia. I am also enjoying finding out some of Felicia’s secrets.

Of course, I would recommend this book to anyone who is already a fan of Charlaine Harris’ other series. Having said that, the plotline is totally different from her other works. I think I have read everything she has written and this series is definitely one of her best.

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

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Joint Custody by Lauren Baratz-Logsted & Jackie Logsted

Joint CustodyJoint Custody by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Joint Custody
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted & Jackie Logsted
Series: n/a
Pages: 256
Publisher: Berkley Books
Date: January 5, 2021

Summary:

A mischievous dog takes matters into his own paws when his beloved owners split up in this offbeat romantic comedy.

The Man has custody Monday through Friday, The Woman has custody on the weekends. But that’s not enough for Gatz, who will do anything to bring them back together–even if it kills him. And it almost did. Of course he knows chocolate is bad for him, especially two whole pounds of it, but it’s the risk he’s willing to take to get them back together.

Gatz knows that The Man and The Woman are perfect for each other–how can they not see it too? She is an editor and he’s a writer. She’s a social butterfly and he’s as introverted as a guy can get. After the misguided death-by-chocolate attempt, Gatz thinks he still has time. But when New Man–so handsome, so nice, so perfect–enters The Woman’s life, he realizes he’ll need to step up his game. And you know what they say: drastic times call for drastic doggy measures.

A laugh-out-loud romance that will touch your heart and make you want a furry friend of your own.

Review:

I requested this book simply because I loved the idea of a book from the dog’s point of view. At first, I thought I had made a mistake. Initially, I thought it was trying too hard to be cute . . . the book, not the dog. Gatz is cute and he knows it. He, however, does not like to be called cute. It is so overdone!

The two main human characters love each other, but are horribly mismatched. The relationship finally falls apart and Gatz is devastated. He has to get his people back together and will stop at nothing to accomplish that.

As I said earlier, I thought the first person dog was a bit much. However, the premise worked much better than I expected. To be honest, Gatz has more of what I would call a cat attitude than a dog. He knows he is the most important character in the book and thinks very highly of himself. To me, that is all cat.

Anyway, this book was fun and heartbreaking all at the same time. Yes, it is a romantic comedy, but it is really more about relationships than romance. It is not all light and fluffy. All of the main characters, including Gatz, demonstrate emotional growth and the willingness to admit they could be wrong about some things.

Did I love this book? No. I did enjoy it though and am glad I read it. There was a lot more depth than expected and as in all good romances, things work out in the end.

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

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Truth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson

Truth, Lies, and Second DatesTruth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Truth, Lies, and Second Dates
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Series:
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: December 15, 2020

Summary:

Captain Ava Capp has been flying from her past for a decade. She’d much rather leave it, and her home state, behind forever. But when she finds herself back in Minnesota, against her better judgment, everything goes sideways in a way she never expected it to.

M.E. Dr. Tom Baker has never forgotten Ava and the cold case she ran away from. When she shows up unexpectedly in town, in spite of himself, sparks fly. Which is terrible because he can’t stop his growing attraction to her. Can these two Type-A’s let their guards down and work together to put Ava’s tragic past behind her for good? And keep their hands off each other at the same time?

Review:

Unlike the first two books in this loosely connected series (Danger, Sweetheart and The Love Scam), Truth, Lies, and Second Dates stands alone. The only connection is the H in Danger, Sweetheart and the h in TLSD (that is way too long to keep typing out) are former hookups. They were not a couple. They were not even really friends, but simply got together when Ava was in town.

And Ava – Ava is a pilot for a wonderful domestic airline that I would really like to be for real. It sounds like a great place to work and fly with. Anyway, she ends up back in her hometown, which she hates, for a layover. She left ten years earlier when her best friend was murdered AND that is the basis for the plot. The murder was never solved and now it looks like the murderer is after her.

As in the earlier books, I started out not liking this one. I thought it was dumb. Of course, the premise of the series is to address as many romantic tropes as possible, so it kind of meant to be dumb. But like the earlier books, I really enjoyed it. I adore Tom and how literal he can be. At the very end of the book and this is not a spoiler because it is so obvious, it’s stated that he is on the spectrum. As the kids used to say, “Well, duh.”

My favorite character of all is Tom’s niece Hannah. She is only six and her I.Q. is off the charts. I really hope we get her book when she has time to grow up. That’s if she hasn’t destroyed the world by then.

As I said, I ended up liking all three of these books. They’re fun and they don’t take a lot of thought. If you’re looking for escapism, I couldn’t recommend anything better.

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

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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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Review: The Princess Knight (The Scarred Earth Saga, #2) by G. A. Aiken

The Princess Knight (The Scarred Earth Saga, #2)The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Princess Knight
Author: G. A. Aiken
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga, #2
Pages: 352
Publisher: Kensington
Date: November 24, 2020

Summary:

Gemma Smythe dedicated her life to the glory of battle. With her fellow War Monks, she worshipped the war gods, rained destruction on her enemies, and raised the dead when the fancy took her. Until her sister Keeley became the prophesied Blacksmith Queen, and Gemma broke faith with her order to journey to the Amichai Mountain and fight by Keeley’s side.

The Amichai warriors are an unruly, never-to-be-tamed lot, especially their leader-in-waiting, Quinn. But when the War Monks declare support for Gemma’s ruthless younger sister Beatrix, the immaturity of her key ally is the least of Gemma’s problems. She has to get to the grand masters, dispel their grudge against her, and persuade them to fight for Keeley and justice. If her conviction can’t sway them, perhaps Quinn’s irritating, irreverent, clearly unhinged, ferocity will win the day.

Review:

I have my favorite Shelly Laurenston/G. A. Aiken series and I never think a new one will be as good. I am also wrong every time. This is the second book, after The Blacksmith Queen, of the Scarred Earth Saga and it is just as funny as all her others.

When I read The Blacksmith Queen, I did not think I particularly liked Gemma. However, this book explains her backstory and makes her a lot more understandable. It doesn’t make her nice by any means. But really, are any of this author’s characters nice? No! And that is why we love them.

The Princess Knight, and yes, Gemma hates that title, continues the war that began in the last book. I can’t say much more than that due to spoilers. (READ THE PREVIOUS BOOK FIRST! You will regret it if you don’t.) Anyway, there is a not-really-new enemy. He was in the first book, but I had almost forgotten about him. There is also a focus on another of Gemma’s and Keeley’s sisters. Keep an eye on her. I think, hope, she will be the star of the next book.

There is an influx of new characters and that is my only problem with the book. A lot of new people are introduced almost at one time and I felt like I needed a cast list to keep track of everybody. They all had a part to play, so no one was superfluous. We’re talking witches, assassins, and virgins, oh my . . . and we can’t forget the centaurs!

The ending was wonderful. It was a solid ending with a not-quite-cliffhanger and an appearance of a surprise character. I cannot wait for the sequel!

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

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The Devil’s Maverick by Lori Fayre

The Devil's MaverickThe Devil’s Maverick by Lori Fayre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: The Devil’s Maverick
Author: Lori Fayre
Series: n/a
Pages: 153
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Date: January 28, 2020

Summary:

When Alva Eastman is taken captive by the devilishly handsome pirate Elijah Maverick, she finds that she may be exactly where she wants to be.

Alva Grace Eastman is a young woman desperate to start a new life. But her plans are hindered when her ship is overrun by pirates and she is taken as a prisoner aboard The Diablo. With the notorious Captain Elijah Maverick as her captor, Alva doesn’t have much hope of escape, but that doesn’t stop her from trying. What does change her mind is when the dashing pirate captain saves her life…twice.

Now willing to give him a chance, Alva discovers that there’s more to Elijah Maverick than the reckless, carefree pirate she thinks he is. Not only is he a kind and compassionate person with an extreme distaste for the oppression of innocents, but he is also a man torn. Elijah is plagued with nightmares from his past, consumed with a quest for revenge and desperate for human comfort, which he believes he’s found with Alva. But he’s not the only one keeping secrets.

Alva’s dark past soon catches up with her, exposing her own misdeeds and need to protect the innocent. Together, Alva and Elijah face many forces that seek to tear them apart. From the Royal Navy to an obsessed plantation owner, the pair must fight for their lives, their love and their freedom.

Review:

It’s been awhile since I have read a historical romance based on the pirate trope. And I mean a long while! Probably since the 1970s. Therefore, I was a little concerned I was going to be reading a plot that was outdated with a weak female cowering before the mighty pirate.

Boy, was I wrong.

Both Alva and Elijah were a surprise. Elijah was a lot more caring than I expected and Alva was much stronger than women in pirate novels are normally portrayed. And that aspect of Alva is where I had problems with the book. She was too strong and capable. It was not her personality that bothered me. It was the fact that she was more capable than the men around her. Even though she was inexperienced with most of the weaponry, she was able to successfully defend herself and the men around her. They did not help her so much as she rescued them.

That just did not ring true.

I spent far too much time thinking, “Yeah, right!” when reading this book.

Having said that, I enjoyed the plot line. The writing was solid with a likable heroine. This is a debut novel and I expect the next book will be even better. A sequel has not been mentioned, but one character needs his own book and the author did leave the ending open enough to allow for his story.

I gave this book three stars and I imagine subsequent books will be even better.

Good luck to a new author who has made a solid beginning on their career.

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

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Midnight Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #11) by Jennifer Ashley

Midnight Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #11)Midnight Wolf by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Midnight Wolf
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound, #11
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: April 24, 2018

Summary:

Angus Murray, bouncer for a New Orleans Shifter bar, is sent to round up an elusive, Collar-less Shifter woman, Tamsin Calloway, who is causing trouble for Shifter Bureau, and possesses information they want. If Angus refuses, he risks losing his cub. He finds Tamsin but she’s slippery and not about to be rounded up quietly.

In fact, quiet is nothing Tamsin will ever be. She leads Angus on a wild chase, but he’s determined to bring her in to save his son.

Can Tamsin convince Angus she’s worth helping before she’s locked away by Shifter Bureau, Collared, or perhaps killed?

Review:

This eleventh installment of what I call the “collared shifters” series is wonderful. It included a couple of my favorite characters from previous books: Zane and Tiger. They both had important parts but they did not overshadow the primary characters at all.

Generally when reading a book, I either really like one character or another. In Midnight Wolf, I loved them both. Angus is a collared wolf shifter, who through no fault of his own, lost his mate and his job as second in his Shiftertown. The only thing that brings him any joy is his cub Ciaran.

And Ciaran is the reason I adore Angus. He loves his cub so much and will do anything to protect him and make sure he is safe and happy. He is a wonderful father and does not let his problems affect his son’s life.

And then there’s Tamsin. Tamsin, who can find joy no matter what.

Tamsin, who is a new type of shifter. At least everyone thinks she is.

SPOILER ALERT: small ONE

You find this out in the first chapter anyway, so not really a spoiler.

Tamsin is a fox shifter. No one, including the other shifters, knew her type existed. As far as she knows, there are no other fox shifters left after her father died.

Tamsin is on the run and has been since she was very young. She is not collared and can normally pass as human. Unfortunately, someone at the Shifter Bureau has found out about her and about a secret she knows involving Angus’ dead brother. They want her captured alive, but don’t plan to leave her alive for long.

So, of course, Angus is sent to find and capture her.

I can’t say much more without real spoilers, but this is an exciting book. There are really bad guys and really good guys. New characters are introduced that I cannot wait to see again in later books.

And there is a romance. If any two people deserve a happily-ever-after, it is Angus and Tamsin. Since this book is a paranormal romance, they do get there happy ending and it was wonderful. This book just made me feel good.

Oddly enough, I normally state unequivocally that series books should be read in order. There are a number of references to backstories in this book, so it would be better to read the rest of the series first. However, Midnight Wolf does a better job than most as a standalone novel.

I rarely give a book five stars, but this one deserves every star. Tamsin and Angus are wonderful characters and I am glad they found each other.

This book was sent to me by the publisher 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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