Tag Archives: Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1) by Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1)Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Death Below Stairs
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Kat Holloway, #1 (also called A Below Stairs Mystery)
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Review:

First, read the prequel to this book – A Soupcon of Poison. It’s less than a hundred pages, but really sets up the background for Death Below Stairs. The prequel is wonderful and I was anxious for the first actual novel in the series. What do you mean I have to wait two years before it is published?!?

Guess what? Not only did I score an early reviewer’s copy, I got it almost five months before the publication date. And this book was so worth the wait.

Jennifer Ashley is a wonderful author. Some authors write really well in one genre, but lose me when they write something different. She is definitely not one of those authors. I discovered her years ago as a science fiction/romance author writing as Allyson James. I don’t know if I found her historical or paranormal books next, but it doesn’t matter. I love them both. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie will always be one of my favorite books in any genre.

Anyway, Death Below Stairs is set in Victorian London and focuses on a cook for the upper classes name Kat Holloway. She is an excellent cook and has little trouble obtaining a new position when it becomes necessary. She also has the unfortunate habit of finding dead bodies.

And that is the true focus of this series.

These are historical novels. Yes, there is a developing romance, but it is strictly a subplot. The heart of these books is a mystery. It’s not necessarily just one mystery either. There is a murder, of course, but the why is just as interesting as the who.

Speaking of interesting, to me, it is not the mystery or the romance that makes these books so engrossing. It is the details. Kat talks about the dishes she prepares for the family in the house as well as the servants. It’s not tedious at all. It adds flavor (and yes, that pun is intentional) to the story. And while the family is integral to the plot, it is the characters below stairs and their lives that I find fascinating.

I am not normally a fan of historicals, but the author makes the events so compelling that I am tempted to delve into a little nonfiction reading just to get more of the background. It’s not needed, but my interest has been piqued. Just who were the finnegans?

I highly recommend anything by Jennifer Ashley, but if your taste runs to historicals, you will love this book.

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

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Wild Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #6) by Jennifer Ashley

wild-wolfTitle: Wild Wolf
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound, #6
Pages: 294
Publisher: Berkley
Date: April 1, 2014

Summary:

In the latest Shifters Unbound novel, a man has resigned himself to a life half lived. But a beautiful, courageous woman has him longing for something more…

Graham McNeil knows that his pack is unruly, but he’s not sure he can take the next step toward Shiftertown stability—choosing a new mate. After losing his mate and son long ago, Graham has worked hard to keep his heart in check. And even if he was inclined to bind himself again, his girlfriend, Misty, is human—a fact that won’t sit well with Graham’s old-fashioned wolves.

But Graham is up against a new enemy, one who could spell danger and death to all of Shiftertown. Graham must now defend his leadership and save Misty, the woman he has grown to love—before Shiftertown is pulled into an all-out war.

Review:

Graham controls his Shifter pack simply by strength of personality. And boy, does he have a personality! Even for a Shifter lupine, he is growly. He is the leader, but to cement the pack he needs to find a Lupine female to mate with and have cubs to inherit the leadership. He needs someone who is strong and pure blooded to satisfy the members of his pack.

So, of course, he falls for a human female.

Misty has problems of her own. You would think that a human female involved with a Shifter leader that no one particularly likes would have enough problems. No, she has a baby brother that has served time and gotten involved with human criminals that make the Shifters look easy going.

So, she is trying to protect Graham from the human bad guys and Graham wants to protect her from his pack.

You know, of course, they are mates. I mean, how else could it go?

I love Graham even if I do want to whomp him upside the head sometimes. Not as much as Misty wants to, but still the urge is there. And Misty is no pushover. As Graham puts it after he tries to convince her to go to safety and she refuses,

“I know you’re not, because you’re an obstinate human woman who doesn’t understand danger.”

Of course, Graham doesn’t always show the most sense either.

“And you’ve been shot.” Misty touched his arm, finding his skin hot and slick with sweat.

“Yep. But don’t worry, sweetheart. I’m used to it.”

Misty is responsible for her younger brother, but Graham has his own responsibilities as well. There is Dougal, his nephew, who has just come through transition and, to me, the stars of the book, Matt and Kyle. Matt and Kyle are three-year-old wolf cubs that Graham is raising. And they are special. Even more special than Graham and Misty realize.

The first time I read this book, I knew it was good. I didn’t realize it was great until the second time through. I don’t know what made the difference, but this is one of my favorites of the series.

And on that note, this is a series. Do not read them out of order and do not try to read any of them as a standalone. It will not work. You NEED to read them in order. Really, you have to! Luckily, they are so good that is not a problem.

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

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Feral Heat (Shifters Unbound, #5.5) by Jennifer Ashley

Feral Heat (Shifters Unbound, #5.5)Feral Heat by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Feral Heat
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound, #5.5
Pages: 153
Publisher: InterMix
Date: March 18, 2014

Summary:

Jace Warden is sent to the Shiftertown in Austin to find a way to free all Shifters from their Collars. But pulling off the Collars can cause Shifters to go mad or kill them outright.

In Austin, Jace meets Deni Rowe, a wolf Shifter with troubles of her own—she was deliberately run down in the road, and while her body has healed, she still has episodes of total memory loss during which she retreats into her pure animal self.

Jace has never met anyone like Deni. Courageous and beautiful, she volunteers to help him test the Collar removal. And as Deni and Jace work together, they feel the mate bond begin. But can Jace help Deni believe she can heal enough to be anyone’s true mate?

Review:

At 153 pages, this story is far too short. Yes, it is listed as a novella, but I wanted more. Jace deserved more and that is the only reason the book received four stars instead of five.

Okay, I have that off my chest.

I originally read this book when it was released back in 2014. For some reason, I was going through a bad time and reviewing books fell by the wayside. That was unfair to some really great books and I am trying to catch up on some reviews that should have been done a long time ago.

Other than the relationship between Jace and Deni, this book focuses on removing the shifters’ collars. Can it be done? Should it be done? Some of the shifters are not to be trusted without the collars. It kind of makes me wish we had something similar for some humans I know.

Anyway, I digress.

Jace is able to mute for lack of a better term the pain from the collars, so he has volunteered to see if his can be removed without him going insane or dying. Unfortunately, he pays for his ability to suppress the pain and it is agonizing.

Deni has her own set of problems.

Deni was seriously injured in a previous book and although she has recovered physically, she still has emotional issues that make her susceptible to going feral. She doesn’t think she has anything to offer a mate and is afraid of injuring or killing anyone who gets too close to her.

Add to both of these issues is the fact that Jace is from Las Vegas and Deni lives in Texas. Shifters are not allowed to visit between Shifter Towns, much less move without human permission.

Does it work out? Of course it does. This is a romance after all. The getting there though! They have to go through so much and it’s not just the collars and human law, it’s their own nature.

This is NOT a standalone book. I really don’t think any in this series should be read out of order. Even then, there is so much going on with so many different characters, I can find it hard to keep straight. It’s worth it though. I love this series even if I hurt for the Shifters sometimes.

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

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Tiger Magic (Shifters Unbound, #5) by Jennifer Ashley

Tiger Magic (Shifters Unbound, #5)Tiger Magic by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Tiger Magic
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound, #5
Pages: 308
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Date: June 4, 2013

Summary:

He was once a captive, but his urges were never caged. Now he’ll release them on a beautiful stranger whose own secret desires are longing to be sated…

He doesn’t have a name. He doesn’t have a clan. The humans who held him prisoner for forty years have taken them away. He knew nothing but captivity until nearly a year ago, when he was released into the light. Now Tiger lives in the Austin Shiftertown, where he struggles to belong and searches for an identity.

Carly Randal thinks her fabulous life is complete—until her car breaks down on the side of the road, and a wild-looking Shifter is the only one to help her. Tiger takes one look at Carly and knows instantly—she will be his mate. As Carly is drawn into his Shifter world, she risks everything she has for that forbidden something she still wants: passionate love.

Review:

Jennifer Ashley (AKA Allyson James, AKA Ashley Gardner) is a wonderful author. It doesn’t matter if she is writing historical, paranormal, or science fiction, I love her books. I discovered her Tales of the Shareem years ago, lucked into the Mackenzie series much later, and most recently found the Shifters Unbound.

I have read many, many Shifter books, so I am very familiar with the genre. Ashley, however, has managed to give it a twist that keeps it fresh.

And Tiger Magic is the most unique (and yes, I know that is poor grammar, but it really is) of them all.

Tiger (that’s his only name) was introduced in Mate Claimed. He was rescued from a human compound where he had been kept captive in a cage for forty years. He suffered torture and experiments his entire life which makes him unpredictable. Even the other Shifters are nervous around him.

Except for the cubs . . . the cubs love him.

Enter a human female with no experience with shifters, so of course they are mates.

Tiger’s tragic background makes me cringe, but the book does not dwell on it. It’s not just about him overcoming his past or dealing with current problems. There is happiness and humor and that is all because of his human mate Carly. She comes to love him and is just as protective of him as he is of her.

She’s also funny.

SPOILER ALERT

 

 

 

Tiger knows after only one night together that Carly is pregnant. She is on birth control, so she doesn’t think it’s possible, but . . .

Shifter sperm, especially Tiger’s, was probably stronger than a human’s. Even if her birth control was meant to keep eggs from falling where they could be fertilized, she wouldn’t be surprised if one of Tiger’s sperm had found one and dragged it out of hiding.

I love it!

I read this book when it was released in 2013, but failed to review it. It deserves a review. In an already wonderful series, it stands out as exceptional. Try it and be sure and read the others in the series as well. It really is a series that needs to be read in order.

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

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White Tiger (Shifters Unbound, #8) by Jennifer Ashley

White Tiger (Shifters Unbound, #8)White Tiger by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: White Tiger
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound, #8
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: April 6, 2016

Summary:

A woman is lured into the shadows of a dangerous manhunt…
Wanted and on the run…

For twenty years, Kendrick, a white tiger Shifter, has been the Guardian of un-Collared Shifters who spend their lives living in secret—and in fear of being shunted into Shiftertowns. When Kendrick’s group is discovered and forced to flee, Kendrick is more desperate than ever to protect them

His only salvation was in a beautiful stranger.

In a diner in the middle of nowhere, lonely waitress Addison Price has seen a lot of unusual drifters come and go, but none has ever captivated—and intimidated—her like the imposing fugitive who wields a broadsword with incredible skill. But when he risks all to protect her, Addison’s fear turns to empathy—and empathy to desire as she learns more about her savior. Soon she’s more than willing to help the crushingly sensual white tiger and his cubs in a passionate bid for freedom. Whatever the cost.

Review:

I had waiting anxiously for this book ever since the first chapter was included at the end of Bad Wolf (#7.5) back in July. Talk about leaving a reader hanging and White Tiger is not due out until April. Therefore, I was thrilled to get an early reviewer’s copy a couple of weeks ago.

It was worth the wait.

The intense, exciting beginning just set the stage for the relationship that was already developing between Addison and Kendrick. But this book was not just about fighting the bad guys. It was more about protecting family, which may or may not have anything to do with blood. It was about trying to do what you think is the right thing, even if it means giving up what you really want.

And, it’s about finding out you can do the right thing and still get what you really, really want.
It’s about love and family and pack and, let’s not forget sex. After all, this is a Shifters Unbound book and the sex is always hot.

I think this may be my favorite Shifters Unbound book and I have enjoyed them all.

Now, how long until I can get my hands on the next one?

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

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The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (Mackenzie & McBride, #8 – prequel) by Jennifer Ashley

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (MacKenzies & McBrides, #8)The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzie & McBride, #8 (prequel)
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: September 29, 2015

Summary:

1745, Scotland: The youngest son of the scandalous Mackenzie family, Malcolm is considered too wild to tame…until he meets a woman who is too unattainable to resist.

Lady Mary Lennox is English, her father highly loyal to the king, and promised to another Englishman. But despite it being forbidden to speak to Malcolm, Lady Mary is fascinated by the Scotsman, and stolen moments together lead to a passion greater than she’d ever dreamed of finding.

When fighting breaks out between the Highlanders and the King’s army, their plans to elope are thwarted, and it will take all of Malcolm’s daring as a Scottish warrior to survive the battle and steal a wife out from under the noses of the English.

Review:

This book is a precursor to Jennifer Ashley’s Mackenzie series and takes place about one hundred years earlier. However, you do not have to have read the earlier (later?) books in order to enjoy it. It is a complete standalone, although I hope she writes additional books in this time period. Just like the Mackenzie family of the 1800s, each of these earlier brothers deserve their own story.

What can I say about this book? Malcolm Mackenzie is the youngest son of the Duke of Kilmorgan. His brothers all call him “runt.” There is Duncan, the eldest, who is to inherit the title, Will the information gatherer, identical twins Alec and Angus, and Malcolm.

Just as an aside about Will because information gatherer needs explaining. This is a quote from his own mouth.

“But I know everything.” Will said. “Whether you want me to or not.”

Now, doesn’t he deserve his own book?

Anyway, there was another brother Magnus, who died as a child. Malcolm is the one found him and it had a permanent effect on his personality. Even though he is the youngest of the family, he feels it is his responsibility to take care of everyone. And that sense of responsibility includes Mary.

Mary . . . Lady Mary Lennox

Mary is the daughter of an English earl who hates the Scots. The book begins shortly before Culloden and the Earl of Wilfort is working to put down those filthy Jacobites.

So, of course, Mary and Malcolm fall in love.

Mary, who has always been an obedient and dutiful daughter. Mary, who is engaged to another man – English, of course.

That Mary falls in love with a Scot and discovers she’s not all that obedient and dutiful after all.

Culloden plays a major part in this plot. I had to make myself keep reading when I realized how important it was going to be to the story because I knew how horrible the battle and aftermath were. I just didn’t want to read about the terrible things that happened. The book was so good though, I couldn’t put it down.

And I was right! Terrible things happened at Culloden. People died. No details, because of spoilers, but PEOPLE DIED!

Was the book worth the heartbreak of reading about Culloden?

Definitely!

Malcolm and Mary are a wonderful couple. With Mary, Malcolm can be human. He can admit he can’t save everyone. And with Malcolm, Mary comes alive.

I highly recommend this book and I really hope the author expands on this series. If you haven’t read the later books, you are missing out.

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

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Mate Bond (Shifters Unbound, #7) by Jennifer Ashley

Mate Bond (Shifters Unbound, #7)Mate Bond by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Mate Bond
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound, #7
Pages: 320
Publisher: Berkley
Date: April 7, 2015

Summary:

To cement the leadership of his North Carolina Shiftertown, Bowman O’Donnell agreed to a “mating of convenience.” Two powerful wolf shifters, he and Kenzie keep the pack in order and are adored by all. Bowman would do anything to protect Kenzie, for in each other’s arms they’ve found far more than friendship. But as strong as their attachment is, they still haven’t formed the elusive mate bond—the almost magical joining of true mates.

Now with a monster ravaging the countryside and threatening the Shiftertown community, some in the pack fear that a pair without a true mate bond isn’t strong enough to lead. Bowman and Kenzie will have to rely on their instinctive trust in one another to save their Shifters—and the ensuing battle will either destroy them or give them the chance to seize the love they’ve always craved.

Review:

The actual “bad guy” plot of this book is secondary to the story. The real focus is on Bowman and Kenzie – two strong, alpha wolves who love each other and are not afraid to show it. They’ve been together for fifteen years and have a wonderful cub named Ryan.

What they don’t have is a mate bond. The mate bond is a magical link between two shifters and overrides all other relationships.

And that is the problem.

Although they don’t discuss it, Bowman and Kenzie both fear that the other will meet their “true” mate and their family will be torn apart.

Now this a romance, so I can tell you that they do not get torn apart without it being a spoiler. However,the author certainly keeps you wondering how they will manage to keep their family together.

Oh yes, everything else – mutant shifters, time mists, FAE, and non FAE, new friends and old – All these make for an excellent story, but it is the relationship between Bowman and Kenzie that make this book.

This is the seventh book in the Shifters Unbound series. It is set in a different ShifterTown than the earlier books which would make it easier to read as a standalone. I wouldn’t though. This series is great enough that you should read them all. Actually, I’m jealous of new readers. You have seven books to read at once. I had to wait for each one. That’s okay though. They’re worth it.

One last thing, anyone else want to try naked ziplining?

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

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