Category Archives: Romance

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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At the Highlander’s Mercy (MacLerie Clan, #6) by Terri Brisbin

At the Highlander's Mercy (The MacLerie Clan, #6)At the Highlander’s Mercy by Terri Brisbin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

 

Summary:

Captive of the clan

To regain control of his fractured clan Robert Matheson must take Lilidh MacLerie hostage as a bargaining tool. But Lilidh is no ordinary captive. She’s the woman he once loved – and rejected!

Rob’s touch is etched permanently into her memory and, unaware that he was forced to repudiate their love, Lilidh has never forgotten the man who broke her heart all those years ago. Now, looking into the eyes of her captor, she no longer recognizes this fearsome leader. She should be afraid – there’s no telling what he will do. But something about him excites and unnerves her in equal measure….

Review:

I’m always thrilled to find a new Highlander book, so I had high hopes for this one. I thought the plot was an interesting one with a twist I had not seen before. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the two main characters themselves.

My favorite couples in Highlander romances consist of a strong, alpha man and a strong, independent woman. I realize the entire Highland cannot consist of lairds, but these are romances, so I get to choose what I love.

Rob is the bastard son of the former laird and and although he has been selected as laird, he is not accepted by his entire clan. In particular, his cousin Simon challenges him because he believes he should have been chosen as laird. Rob does little to nothing to control Simon and the clan is in turmoil because of this.

The Highland lairds I love would have smacked Simon down at the very onset of his troublemaking. They certainly wouldn’t have allowed him to continue to challenge their decisions.

Lilidh (pronounced Lily – I had to look it up) has become a widow after only a few months of marriage. She is returning home to her family so that they can find her a new husband. And that’s what I didn’t like about her. She rarely seemed to stand up for herself. Where are the feisty heroines of my favorite Highlander romances? She doesn’t have any opinion regarding who she is to marry and where she is to live. She leaves all the decisions up to her father and clan.

This book is a spinoff of Brisbin’s MacLerie series. Lilidh’s parents are the couple from the first title in the series: Taming the Highlander and make regular appearances in this book. If you are a fan of The MacLerie’s, you really do need to read this book. It’s always fun to visit couples from books you love and find out how they turn out.

Maybe I would have enjoyed this one more if I had read the previous books. I did feel like I was missing the backstory on occasion. Then again, I really think Rob’s lack of backbone would have disappointed me no matter what.

Ratings:

Overall: 3
Sensuality level: 3

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Updated March 6, 2018:  I read this book five years ago, reviewed it, and never posted the review.  WTH??

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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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