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I Belong

Review: The Unleashing by Shelley Laurenston

August 29th, 2015 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

The UnleashingTitle: The Unleashing

AuthorShelley Laurenston

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Series: Call of Crows (Book #1)

Publication Date: March 31, 2015

Format: Paperback, 373 Pages

ISBN-10: 1617735051 (Kensington)

ISBN-13: 978-1617735059 (Kensington)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

WINGING IT

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

Quick & Dirty: A marine turned Crow, and Viking Raven and darkness that is coming to devour them all.

Opening Sentence: She didn’t know what woke her up.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Kera is a former Marine who is killed and offered a second chance at life. She is then dropped into a house with new sisters, which are a Viking clan called Crows. For the most part they are the complete opposite of Kera and at least one spectacular fight breaks out from Kera’s organizational skills. There are multiple clans serving all of the different Norse gods. The only thing any of the Crows have in common is that they are known for their rage, their hatred and their loyalty to each other.

Kera finds out Vig is a Raven, another Viking Clan that serves Odin. Vig was a repeat customer at the coffee shop Kera worked at before her life so drastically changed. Kera also makes the Skuld bring her dog with her, although at the time she doesn’t realize that Brodie has to die too. Brodie quickly becomes the new mascot at the sorority type house Kera finds herself living in, in her new life.

There are several POV’s in this book including Chloe and Erin (who is Kera’s new mentor and the Crow she gets into an epic fist fight with.) Chloe is the leader of this particular chapter, apparently there are many all over the world. The first half of the book is really getting to sort of know Kera and her new sisters and her developing relationship with Vig (the blacksmith for the Ravens or weapons master). The second half brings to light that something dark and dangerous is attacking the clans and that one clan alone probably won’t make it against this darkness.

I enjoyed the book, although it did drag a little in the beginning. Sometimes it was a little confusing whose point of view it was at the time, but for the most part the author was on it. I feel like I have read a lot of books lately with gods, or Norse gods in them. This one didn’t have them active as of yet but definitely their presence was felt. I did really like the fact that Kera was a former Marine and that she ends up deciding to run a non-profit for rescue dogs that pairs them with veterans.

As a former Marine myself there were several parts of the book that made me laugh out loud and I appreciated the author really portraying her in such a positive manner. Overall, I liked it, didn’t quite love or really like it but I enjoyed it and thought it had a lot of interesting concepts and characters. My only issue is that it could be confusing and some of the world building really needed to be fleshed out.

Notable Scenes:

“He was just an introvert with an aversion to shaving.”

“A whistle caught their attention and the Silent looked up… to see the trees filled with Chloe’s sister-Crows.”

“They stood straight and ready for battle.”

Call of Crows Series:

  1. 1. The Unleashing

2. The Undoing

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FTC Advisory: Kensington provided me with a copy of The Unleashing. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Education of Victoria by Angela Meadows

August 29th, 2015 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

The Education of VictoriaTitle: The Education of Victoria

Author: Angela Meadows

Genre: Erotic Romance

Series: N/A

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Format: Paperback, 272 Pages

ISBN-10: 1402289626 (Xcite/Sourcebooks)

ISBN-13: 978-1402289626 (Xcite/Sourcebooks)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

Lessons in love and a whole lot more, are in store in this saucy romp set in a European finishing school for young ladies. Packed off to a continental finishing school, 16-year-old Victoria thinks she will be taught how to be a dutiful wife for a gentleman. But she soon discovers that she has a lot to learn in the arts of pleasure at the Venus School for Young Ladies. There she encounters the strictness of Principal Madame Thackeray and her team of tutors. Under their guidance she learns the finer arts of sexual pleasure and discovers that there are plenty of fellow students and staff willing to share their carnal knowledge with this sweet young English rose. On returning to England, she finds her father in financial difficulty, and must turn her newfound education to good use to save the family estate.

Quick & Dirty: Erotic novel featuring all kids of sexual situations, not for the faint of heart.

Opening Sentence: His mouth pressed against mine, his tongue squeezing between my lips.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Victoria is 16 year girl caught with the stable boy in Regency era England. Her father decides to send her to a finishing school in Vienna. I am not sure if he meant to send her to that school, but she ends up in Venus finishing school for girls. Almost immediately it becomes clear what they are learning at this school.

Victoria is taught the art of pleasing herself, performing fellatio, and basically almost every act of sex you can think of. She takes to these lessons eagerly. Often using her newfound knowledge on the other girls attending the school, and sometimes on the young men kept on hand. After a year or so passes she returns home one summer to find that her father is in dire straits and ultimately kills himself and she tries desperately to save what she can of the estate.

Let me start off with the good, if you like erotic sex books than this book is for you. It has something literally for everyone, lesbian, gay, straight, and bi. I mean that seriously. The writing is excellent and the book is vivid. For this being the first erotic novel by the author I felt she did a pretty great job.

However, I had some issues; this book isn’t particularly for the faint of heart. The first thing that bothered me was Victoria’s age, of course taking the timeframe into consideration, I know that I am looking at that with a modern eye. She and other teenagers are in graphic sexual situations the entire book. There are depictions of incest, rape and numerous other disturbing incidents within the book. I know I said it was a good book, and it is a good erotic novel, given the context of the book my feelings are probably just my feelings. I was conflicted about the book, on one hand I enjoyed it, and on the other hand those incidents and her age disturbed me quite a bit.

You may feel that I didn’t properly address the story except there really isn’t much of a story. It is very much an erotic novel. The plot really is about a young girl’s sexual awakening and her path to running her own establishment.

Notable Scenes:

“So I remained inside the stuffy house with no one to converse with or entertain me.”

“Most evenings we entertained one or another of Bea’s patrons and their friends or guests.”

“Natalie waved from the doorway as I began my journey to Vienna and a new life.”

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FTC Advisory: Sourcebooks/Xcite provided me with a copy of The Education of Victoria. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Dragon King by Donna Grant

August 28th, 2015 Kristie Posted in Review No Comments »

Dragon KingTitle: Dragon King

Author: Donna Grant

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Series: Dark Kings (Book #6.25)

Publication Date: August 25, 2015

Format: eBook, 100 Pages

A-SIN: B00PSU8S6A (Evil Eye Concepts)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

A Woman on a Mission

Grace Clark has always done things safe. She’s never colored outside of the law, but she has a book due and has found the perfect spot to break through her writer’s block. Or so she thinks. Right up until Arian suddenly appears and tries to force her away from the mountain. Unaware of the war she just stumbled into, Grace doesn’t just discover the perfect place to write, she finds Arian—the most gorgeous, enticing, mysterious man she’s ever met.

A King with a Purpose

Arian is a Dragon King who has slept away centuries in his cave. Recently woken, he’s about to leave his mountain to join his brethren in a war when he’s alerted that someone has crossed onto Dreagan. He’s ready to fight . . . until he sees the woman. She’s innocent and mortal—and she sets his blood aflame. He recognizes the danger approaching her just as the dragon within him demands he claim her for his own…

Quick & Dirty: Dragon King has it all from a steamy romance, wonderful writing, action scenes to an amazing cast of characters.

Opening Sentence: Grace was screwed.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Dragon King is an absolutely sexy read. The characters are entertaining and the writing sucked me in to the story. I really felt like I was in the highlands of Scotland sitting on the side of the mountain with Grace. I really liked this setting and the dragon’s story. I just want to stop everything and read the rest of this series. I thought this novella was that good. I have never read anything in this series yet but I will. I think this could be read as a standalone because the world is set up and explained in such a way that I didn’t feel like was missing out on anything.

Grace is desperate to finish her novel. She has been fighting terrible writer’s block. She does the last thing she can think of and that is to travel to Scotland, the place where her book takes place. She is hoping the atmosphere will help her write. She drives to a location that she thinks is perfect for writing and write she does. It was the perfect option for her troubles.

Grace suffers from a weird phobia. She is scared of storms. She is a little worried when she sets out because of the rain but she faces her fear because writing is the number one thing she needs to focus on. As the rain picks up she seeks refuge in a cave as she continuously writes.

Arian has just woken up from his dragon sleep. He can sense that his cave has been invaded. He is intrigued by the woman who is sitting at the entrance to his cave. She shouldn’t have been able to see it but he is enraptured by what she is doing. He thinks she is a wonderful storyteller but he needs to find out how she got to his cave. Arian’s cave comes under attack by Dark Fae and he must decide whether Grace knows anything about it.

As a novella, the sparks fly pretty fast between Grace and Arian. Once she is aware of Arian she isn’t scared of him. I do think she is a little insane because he is naked when they first meet and she doesn’t really think anything too crazy (at least she doesn’t dwell on it).

Arian is a dragon who can magically transform into a human shape. He is drool worthy. Arian follows his intuition when it comes to Grace. He is a little selfish and doesn’t want Grace to leave him so he uses his power to control weather to keep her in his cave. For the most part, Grace is levelheaded. She isn’t freaking out too much about the things she is finding out about Arian and the world that he is from.

Dragon King has it all from a steamy romance, wonderful writing, action scenes to an amazing cast of characters. I really enjoyed this novella and I’m already hooked onto the character of Constantine. I really want to know what is going on with the leader of the Dragon Kings. If you like dragons and want to read a series that is well written. I would check out this novella and see if it hooks you like it did me.

Notable Scene:

“You’re quiet,” Grace said.

Arian found himself smiling. He noticed that he had been lightly rubbing her back the entire time. “So are you, lass.”

“I’m thinking.”

“About?” he urged.

She snuggled closer to him. “Don’t laugh.”

“I would never,” he responded solemnly because he had a feeling whatever she was about to say was about them.

Grace flattened her palm on his chest. “I’ve not been writing it correctly.”

“Writing what, exactly?”

“Passion. I forgot what it was,” she whispered. “I went off what I saw in movies or read, but I haven’t…experience…it in many years.”

He didn’t like thinking about other men being with her, but they were in the past. Where they would remain. “Were they no’ good lovers?”

“They were all right, but without passion, it all feels…empty.”

Dark Kings:

0.1-0.3 Dark Heat

  1. 1. Darkest Flame

2. Fire Rising

3. Burning Desire

4. Hot Blooded

5. Night’s Blaze

6. Soul Scorched

6.25 Dragon King

7. Passion Ignites

8. Smoldering Hunger (December 29, 2015)

9. Smoke and Fire (April 5, 2016)

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FTC Advisory: Evil Eye Concepts, Inc/InkslingerPR provided me with a copy of The Dragon King. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

August 28th, 2015 Steph Posted in Review No Comments »

Owl and the Japanese CircusTitle: Owl and the Japanese Circus

Author: Kristi Charish

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: The Adventures of Owl (Book #1)

Publication Date: January 13, 2015

Format: Paperback, 432 Pages

ISBN-10: 1476794995 (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-13: 978-1476794990 (Simon & Schuster)

Reviewed by: Steph

Synopsis:

Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

Quick & Dirty: An ex-archaelogy student on the run from vampires accepts a job from a dragon in exchange for her safety. The dragon didn’t say anything about keeping her safe from anything else though…

Opening Sentence: I hate potholes.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Ever since being unjustly blacklisted by the archaelogy world, Owl has taken to stealing antiquities for those who will pay for them. After a couple of bad experiences, Owl has sworn off doing any supernatural jobs. That is, until she’s brought to see Mr. Kurosawa, a dragon who is determined that Owl help him locate and translate an ancient scroll. In return, he swears to get the vampires chasing her off her tail for good. Owl accepts and thus begins what will become the most harrowing experience of her life. You see, Owl’s not the only one after the scroll, and the vampire after it will stop at nothing to get it. Will Owl and her friends be able to find it first? Or will Owl be forced to tell a dragon not used to hearing the word “No” that she failed to find his treasure?

This is yet another difficult book for me to rate. At times, it moves very quickly and is hard to put down, but then at other times, there are lulls that seem to last forever. It also often feels like we come into the story partway through. Not much detail is given regarding Owl’s previous supernatural encounters, and yet they shape so much of how she responds to her current situation that it often left me feeling a little lost.

Another problem comes with the character of Owl herself. Her voice is very uneven, which makes it hard to really get a lock on who she is as a character. Despite the first person narration, I still am having trouble coming up with words to describe her. She is at times very kickass, and those scenes are such fun to read. It’s not consistent though, which is frustrating. She also has a tendency to just run into danger despite warnings from friends, and this just gets her into more trouble. It gets a little old after a while.

The romance also falls a little flat. Rynn and Owl already have a history with each other when the book starts, although it hasn’t progressed into anything more than friendship yet. There’s really no romantic tension though, and with the romance scenes fading to black before getting to the action, it’s hard for any chemistry to form between the two. I just didn’t feel invested in their relationship.

On the positive side, I think my favorite part of the book involved Owl’s cat, Captain. The idea of there being a breed of cat that was developed specifically to hunt and poison vampires is very unique. I pretty much loved all the scenes in which Captain appeared. I am a cat person though, so that may have had something to do with it.

I know most of this review sounds negative, but I swear I did enjoy myself most of the time. It just always felt like something was missing, so I couldn’t completely lose myself in the events of the book. A lot of these issues could come down to it being a first in a series. I liked the book well enough that I will check out book two when it comes out. I’m hoping that the hints of a good book/series that I saw here will flourish in future installments.

Notable Scene:

Three long seconds passed, during which I held my breath.

“Lady Siyu,” Mr. Kurosawa said. The Kabuki girl produced a red lacquer pen with a very sharp tip.

Oh hell no.

I went to shove my hand into my pocket, but she was too fast; a blur of red-tipped fingernails snatched my wrist. I yelped as she pricked me with a needle and held my finger until a drop of blood fell on the page. She was strong for such a small woman. Lady Siyu said something in Japanese, and my conditions appeared on the bottom page. Just like that. Then she flipped the pen over and handed it to me. I kept her and Mr. Kurosawa in my sights as I signed. I thought I caught a glimpse of a slit eye as I passed the signed contract back to Lady Siyu. If she was human, I was a dancing unicorn.

“How does a dragon get vampires to back off dinner anyways?” I said.

Mr. Kurosawa frowned, as if my question was in line with what he’d expect from a four-year-old.

I held up my hands. “Just curious. They were pretty pissed off the last time we spoke in Egypt.” Thinking about  my Egyptian run-in with the Paris boys was enough to give me nightmares for a week.

“There are courtesies and etiquettes to follow,” Mr. Kurosawa said. “If not, I’ve been known to eat the occasional vampire.”

I believed it. Dragons trump vampires in the supernatural food chain. Which only strengthened my conviction that I was completely and utterly out of my mind for even contemplating this job.

“So, just so we’re clear, tomorrow I can use my Visa and no one will jump out of an alley and try to kill me?” Oh yeah, vampires were loving the digital era.

“I suggest you set yourself up in Vegas to start, but yes. I’ve taken the liberty of having Lady Siyu check you into one of our suites. Your van was retrieved and is in the parkade.”

Lady Siyu passed me a receipt for my Winnebago, along with the red dossier. She turned on her spiked heels and motioned for me to follow.

Mr. Kurosawa regarded me. Even halfway to a dragon he still looked every inch the rich businessman. “Words of caution, Owl: do not let yourself lose track of Lady Siyu in my private casino. People have a way of getting…lost.”

I scrambled; I was not about to get lost in a dragon’s lair-den-whatever you call it. But my business side took over.

I glanced back over my shoulder at Mr. Kurosawa before Lady Siyu entered the maze. “How do I contact you?”

“It’s all in the dossier.” He got up to leave and had almost disappeared amongst the slot machines, but I couldn’t help myself.

“What would have happened if I’d said no?”

He flashed his vicious, razor-sharp smile once more. “Those Paris vampires offered an awfully large reward for you. And I eat thieves.”

The Adventures of Owl:

  1. 1. Owl and the Japanese Circus

2. Owl and the City of Angels

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FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of Owl and the Japanese Circus. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Lukas by Carian Cole

August 26th, 2015 Kristie Posted in Review No Comments »

Lukas-ebook-coverTitle: Lukas

Author: Carian Cole

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Embers & Ashes (Book #3)

Publication Date: July 28, 2015

Format: eBook, 209 Pages

A-SIN: B012VC9T5G (Carian Cole)

ISBN-13: 294-0152296891 (Carian Cole)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

Storm’s younger cousin.
Vandal’s little brother.
You’ve met him in the background.
The sweet one.
The nice one.
The one they can all rely on.
The good one.
He’s a tattoo artist. He plays metal and classical music – on the violin.
He’s got a body built for sin.
He’s 24.
In comes Ivy. She’s a 36 year old single mom who hasn’t dated in 18 years.
All she wanted was a tattoo.
She got a helluva lot more :)
Being good has never been so bad.

Quick & Dirty: Intoxicating and steamy read with a couple I adored. I didn’t like the time jumps and the quick wrap up at the end but I still really enjoyed this story.

Opening Sentence: “Baby, I miss you so much,” his voice is raspy with strained desire.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Lukas is a sexy and steamy contemporary romance with two main characters that I immensely loved. You could read Lukas as a standalone but I do not recommend it. You should read Storm and Vandal first, you will not regret it. I’ve recommended this series to my mom and my aunt and they have fallen in love with this series too. Also, I think knowing the events of the first two novels just make what happens in Lukas all the more devastating and heart wrenching.

The events of Lukas coincide with events that play out in Storm and Vandal. The only difference is you get to see how Lukas and Ivy meet and the terrible things they have to go through in order to be together. Ivy is devastated and blindsided by her divorce. She is sad and depressed. She isn’t doing anything. Ivy’s friend, in her hopes to turn Ivy around and feel better about herself, gives her a gift certificate for a tattoo. It’s something she’s always wanted to do but her husband wouldn’t let her. When she gets to the tattoo parlor, she never expected the sparks to fly with Lukas.

Lukas felt the sparks immediately but with his rule to never make a move on a client, he behaves himself as much as he can. Lukas just can’t get Ivy off of his mind. Thankfully, Ivy chose a tattoo that would take several appointments to finish so he gets to see her a couple more times. He uses his time to try and woo Ivy. She is the kind of woman he wants. She is smart, dedicated and mature. He is tired of the concert groupies and leftovers from his brother Vandal.

There is a twelve year age difference between Lukas and Ivy. He has no problem with it but Ivy can’t get over the age difference. She doesn’t like it but she is extremely attracted to Lukas. She thinks because of his age that he is immature and that he doesn’t know what he wants yet. She learns through trial and fire that he really is levelheaded and quite mature.

Lukas has had a tough life and because of that he has had to grow up faster than other people around him. He wants stability and someone to lean on. He’s tired of one night stands. Ivy’s life has been pretty decent until recently and because of that she has developed severe trust issues. She is learning how to live on her own with her two children.

Ivy and Lukas’ chemistry is intoxicating. The heat these two characters create is so catching. I loved both of them. (Storm is still my favorite though!) They have some issues towards the end that might have been a bit “temper tantrum-y”.

This novel isn’t perfect. There are a few things that I didn’t like, especially with how quickly it wrapped up. This novel is just over 200 pages, which is shorter than Storm and Vandal. The time jumps and quick wrap up left me with quite a few questions that weren’t quite answered at the end, but I will still come back for more.

Overall, Lukas is an intoxicating and steamy novel that certainly left me wanting more. I cannot wait until the sequel, Talon, is released. Also, what the heck is up with Asher?!? If you like contemporary romances and hard rock, I really recommend this series.

Notable Scene:

He runs his finger over the rim of his wine glass, his eyes following the circle he’s making on the crystal edge. “Do you feel that way about me?” he finally asks, shifting his eyes up to meet mine. “Do you think, because I’m in my twenties, that I don’t know what I want? That in a few years I’ll be different?” He tilts his head a little. “That I might grow away from you?”

I look down at my plate, needing a break from his intense eyes for a few seconds, having to remind myself to breathe. Sometimes, like just now, when our eyes meet, that intense, warm vibrating feeling rushes into me again, making me feel like I’ve forgotten something and then all of a sudden remembered it again in one turbulent shudder of my heart.

“You felt that just now, didn’t you? I scares you.” He states.

I shake my head, ignoring what he just said for now because that feeling does scare me, but not exactly in a bad way. “Yes, I admit I’m worried because you’re still in your early twenties, and what you want, who you want, is most likely going to change.”

“Not going to happen. I know myself.”

“People change sometimes as they get older. It doesn’t mean it has to be negative, just different. People grow and evolve and sometimes they want different things that what they thought they wanted.”

“I could say the same about you. In five years, you might change what you want in life, too.”

I smile across the table at him. “That’s true.”

“Is what you want now the same as what you wanted when you were in your twenties?” he asks.

I take one last bite of my dinner and weigh my answer carefully. “What I want is the same. Who I want to share it with has changed. Love and commitment has always been the most important things for me.”

Embers & Ashes:

  1. 1. Storm

2. Vandal

3. Lukas

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FTC Advisory: Carian Cole/Inkslinger PR provided me with a copy of Lukas. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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