The Bride Test – Helen Hoang 4 stars

May 18, 2019 Berkley Trade, Boookluvr Reads, Edelweiss, Uncategorized 1

The Bride Test – Helen Hoang 4 starsThe Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Published by Penguin on May 7, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women, Multicultural & Interracial
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

From the critically acclaimed author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart...

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he's defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme's lessons in love seem to be working...but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who's convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme's time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he's been wrong all along. And there's more than one way to love.

I adored Khai and Esme individually, but the two of them together melted my heart. They were both so vulnerable and scared to do something to hurt those that they loved and yet each approached their vulnerability in their own way.

Esme was always looking for a way over, around or through the obstacles in front of her. I couldn’t help but admire her strength and perseverance will simultaneously being proud of her willingness to leave herself open to be hurt after everything she had experienced in her life. Even when everything happening was out of her control and life kept snatching her dreams away from her she kept pushing through.

Sweet sweet Kai. My heart broke for him so many times in this book. Realizing that the fact he processed emotions differently make him feel like he didn’t have feelings was devastating. Knowing that he had unconsciously pulled back from every relationship in his life both to protect himself and the people he cared about made me want to wrap him in giant hug. I am not an expert on autism so I can’t say whether the portrayal was accurate. I can however say it felt like it was handled well as the reader. I appreciated that Khai was presented as having all the same emotional and physical desires as all of the other romance heroes we read do. Khai was everything anyone could want out of a hero.

The only thing I struggled with was how long Esme kept Jade a secret. It bothered me just like the secret baby trope did because it felt wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understood why she felt like she had to make that decision but I wished she had been honest sooner.

Fans of the Kiss Quotient will certainly enjoy the Bride Test. I felt it was a much stronger storyline and the characters were more developed. For those that haven’t read Kiss Quotient, the Bride Test could be read as a standalone book easily.

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The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren 3 stars

May 13, 2019 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Uncategorized 1

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren 3 starsThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 14, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Women, General
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies.

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Deciding on a rating for The Unhoneymooners was tough. I really enjoyed the first 75% of the book. It was a trope I love (forced proximity), the main characters were endearing and it was lighthearted fun. That’s pretty much everything I could ask for from a romantic comedy.

If you don’t want spoilers you will want to skip what’s left of this review. What happened in the last 25% of this book you may ask? Major gaslighting by the people closest to Olive, the heroine in this book. You see, Olive found out that her new brother-in-law has been cheating on her sister for years from his brother who is the hero in this book. He pressured her not to say anything to her sister and Olive intended to honor that request after convincing herself she might not know everything about their relationship. Olive didn’t one want to embarrass her sister or strain the relationships of those she cared the most about so regardless of all of her misgivings she was going to keep her mouth shut.

Here is where my entire opinion of this book changes. We keep getting glimpses into how Dane (the brother-in-law) has been making comments to everyone about how negative Olive is. He has convinced her twin sister and Ethan that she is always looking for problems even where there are none. I am sure you can see where this is going, but it’s worse than you imagine. Dane is so confidence that nobody will believe Olive that he not only pretends there is no issue, but he propositions Olive. At this point Olive realizes that she has to say something to her Ami (her sister). She tells both Ethan and Ami everything and NEITHER OF THEM BELIEVE HER. I wanted to launch my kindle at the wall.

In the end of course, both Ethan and Ami discover that Dane was in fact a scumbag and apologize profusely but you know what? I DON’T CARE! When I look back on the last couple of years and all of the stories of gaslighting that were in the news I just don’t want it in my romance unless it involves a character that you don’t expect me to see as redeemed. Obviously other readers could feel completely differently, but for me reality is hard enough right now. I don’t want to deal with all of it in the same place I am going to find a guaranteed HEA.

The bottom line is, I wish The Unhoneymooners was a choose your own adventure book where I could pick an alternate ending. If the resolution had been handled differently I think I would have loved it.

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American Witch – Thea Harrison 3 1/2 stars

May 5, 2019 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Uncategorized 1

American Witch – Thea Harrison 3 1/2 starsAmerican Witch by Thea Harrison
Published by Teddy Harrison LLC on April 29, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General, Suspense, Fantasy
Pages: 334
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Thea Harrison comes the first in a new spellbinding trilogy…

Power can change a person…

For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.

Revenge can shape a person…

Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.

Danger can bring them together…

When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.

As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.

As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?

Can you imagine what it would be like to suddenly come into power as a witch at 40 years old, especially if you didn’t know you were a witch? That’s exactly what happens to Molly Sullivan in American Witch. As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, this discovery comes right on the heals of finding out that her husband has been cheating on her. I don’t know about you, but if I were in her shoes I would likely to torch the bastard with my new powers under those circumstances.

I adored Molly. After coming to terms with everything she was determined to reinvent herself . She developed a spine of steel and took no shit from anyone even though in many instances there was a power imbalance.

I was wary when Molly started dreaming about a woman telling her to come visit because I thought for sure it would be a trap of some sort. But the relationship between Sarah and Molly was the highlight of the book. Sarah was such a kind and nurturing and was exactly the loving presence that Molly needed and frankly deserved in her life. After being raised by a wretched excuse for a mother and marrying a scumbag of a husband she needed a genuine friendship to allow her to heal and find her true self.

There were a couple things I didn’t care for in this book. The first was Josiah. Sure he did a lot of things to help Molly and fell in love with her but he spent a lot of time being an asshole. Even after he acknowledged his feelings for Molly, anytime he got irritated he became an irrational jerk. I’m all about a surly hero but in my opinion he took it too far.

The second thing I didn’t like was the surprise event in the book (I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet). I couldn’t quite tell if I was supposed to see that as a fated moment based on the fact they were meant to be together or whether it was supposed to be a series of random events that resulted in that outcome. If it wasn’t some fated experience it just felt too contrived because I saw it coming a mile away. I get why it was a plot point because I think it was the only thing that was going to convince Josiah to evaluate who he had become, I just found the way it too place a little too convenient.

All in all I think this was a good introduction to a new series by Thea Harrison and I look forward to reading future installments of this series and I hope eventually we will get to see Molly and Josiah interact with characters of the Wyr and Nightkind. Can you imagine Molly and Carling teaming up at some point?

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Unbroken Cowboy, Maisey Yates 4 stars

April 23, 2019 Boookluvr Reads, Uncategorized 0

Unbroken Cowboy, Maisey Yates 4 starsUnbroken Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Published by HQN Books on May 1, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Western, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

Don’t miss the next Gold Valley Western romance novel, Unbroken Cowboy, from New York Times bestselling author Maisey Yates, available April 30 from HQN Books.

Unbroken Cowboy really threw me for a loop in the best way.  You see, after meeting Beatrix in multiple Gold Valley books I had a very clear picture of who she was.  I didn’t view her as an adult like I should have given her friends, rather more as a very naive teenager.  It wasn’t even about her age as much as her naive and childlike demeanor that made me see her that way.  Because of that I wasn’t sure how the author was going to pull off a pairing with Dane who has clearly been a playboy rodeo cowboy.  I shouldn’t have doubted her, she pulled it off beautifully.

Beatrix who has always seemed extremely simple and loving has been hiding a spine of steel from everyone, even those closest to her.  After all, living this way has allowed her to hide her vulnerable heart from any further heartbreak after she experienced a devastating loss as a teenager.  The image of the naive and fragile girl that she presented to even her closes friends have led them to believe that she is someone who needs to be protected, even from herself.   So when Bea finally sets her sights on heating up her relationship with Dane, her friends are certain that heartbreak lies ahead.

Dane’s life is no longer what he wants it to be.  After a bull-riding accident almost kills him, he has been laid up for months being babied by everyone he comes in contact with.   To say he’s a bit of an ass as a result would be an understatement.  Dane has spent so much of his life chasing being a rodeo star that he no longer knows who he is, all he knows is that he is now stuck in a life he didn’t want.

When Dane inadvertently gets a glimpse of Bea’s body combined with the real her, he realizes how wrong everyone including himself has been about Bea.  She’s determined and rather than battling those around her to make them see her points, she flows around any obstacles she encounters like water. Forceful and fluid the reality is that Bea always ends up accomplishing what she sets her mind to.  Dane quickly realizes that this new life with Bea is almost exactly what he has always needed, if only he can get her to accept one minor tweak with him returning to work in the rodeo circuit as an agent.

Can Bea trust that she will be enough for Dane in the long run when he entire childhood showed her that marriages are anything but permanent?  Or will she walk away breaking not just her own heart, but Dane’s as well in order to stay safe?  Pick up your copy of Unbroken Cowboy to find out.

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Release Day Excerpt: Adonis Line by Dakota Gray

March 11, 2019 Excerpt, Uncategorized 0

Release Day Excerpt: Adonis Line by Dakota GrayAdonis Line by Dakota Gray
Published by Dakota Gray on March 11, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, African American, Erotica
Pages: 170
Source: the Author

I’m a saint. On paper.

I have a stable job as a personal trainer. My side hustle involves taking people out on hikes and pushing them to their limits. I love my friends and family equally.

Every now and again, I need the itch between my shoulder blades branded with scratch marks.

I’m haunted by that phantom ache when Nina Williams walks into my life to hire me for a hiking contest. Killer, dimpled smile, potty mouth, sharp mind and a confidence that makes me want to beg.

She doesn’t want to want me. Yet, with a past as complicated and dark as mine, we’re destined to cross every line she puts in place.

If I were truly a good guy, I would have wished her luck and turned her away.

But how can I? That nameless thing inside me that feeds on sex, adventure and the promise of redemption just got invited to play.

Dakota Gray, one of our favorite erotic romance authors has a new book releasing today and was kind of enough to share an excerpt with us.

______________________________________________________________________________

She bites her lip. “You’re interesting.”

I tread closer to her. “What does that mean?”

“It means I expected a jock. You’re not. Entirely.”

I laugh at the caveat. “Entirely?”

“You definitely think with your muscles sometimes.” She slips lower into the water. “Like right now.”

“What?”

She rolls her eyes. “You think I don’t notice how you’re moving closer to me, on the sly?”

Since I’m caught, I stop being sly. I get close enough her breasts bobs against my chest. “But what’s the thing surprising you?”

She drops one hand to my chest. “Your ambition. You made a name for yourself. People didn’t tell me to go to London-Berg gym. They said Tarek is the man you need. After knowing you for a few days, seeing how you work, I’m impressed.”

“You don’t sound like you want to be.”

She smiles at me. “Because you’re blocking my sunlight.”

And that’s when my like for her joins my lust of her. “Do you want me to move?”

The smile slips and she sighs. “I should.”

I rest my hands on the concrete behind her. “Should is a bad word. It stops you from doing all the fun things.”

Her chest rises faster. “I really want to tell myself sex with you once will be enough. It won’t be.”

“How about we just have fun for two weeks?”

“And then?”

“This is a road trip. You’ll be tired of me in a few days, anyway. After fourteen days, if you ever see me again, it’ll be too soon.”

“This is your pitch? This is how you’re going to talk me into sleeping with you?”

I cup her nape and wait for her to pull back or lean closer.  She tilts her head and moves closer. “No,” I finally answer her.

I catch her bottom lip between my teeth and pull back slowly. Her lips plump and turn much more tempting. And I wait.

“Better pitch,” she murmurs.

“Thought so.”

______________________________________________________________________________

*FANS SELF* Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Adonis Line today.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2SIIWSs 

iBooks: http://smarturl.it/Adonis_iBks 

Nook: http://smarturl.it/Adonis_Nook 

Google : http://smarturl.it/Adonis_GP

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/adonis-line

And if you’re new to the Perv series, book one in the series (PERV) is currently free. Happy reading!

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Polaris Rising, Jessie Mihalik 5 stars

February 5, 2019 Boookluvr Reads 1

Polaris Rising, Jessie Mihalik 5 starsPolaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Published by HarperCollins on February 5, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Action & Adventure, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

Sometimes as a reviewer you know that you are going to have a hell of a time writing a review even as you are reading the book itself.  In my case there are various reasons that I may feel that way.  There is the dreaded ok books that I just feel meh about, the books I don’t finish because they were either so boring or so problematic that I don’t know what to say without sounding like a bitch, and then there are the books that are so awesome that I don’t even know what to say.  Polaris Rising was one of those awesome books.  Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a complaint!  I loved every moment as a reader, but since I don’t think that it counts as a review to throw a book at random people on the street counts as a review I’ll give it a shot.

First a couple of confessions.  1) I typically struggle with the first book in a series.  So often the world building overshadows the story itself and since I am not emotionally invested in the characters yet there is nothing that sucks me in and keeps me there.  2) Until very recently I hadn’t read any SFR.  I don’t recall making a conscious decision not to read it necessarily, I just never sought it out I guess.  So when there were a couple of sci-fi romances recently that were getting some positive buzz on twitter, Polaris Rising being one of them, I decided to dip my toe into the genre.  *Steph – *snerk* she just needed to find the right gateway drug and this one definitely qualifies!  I’m posting a review as well so…  yeah…*

Polaris Rising is everything that the first book in a series should be.  While there was a lot of world building, the characters had thoughtful and compelling backstories that made me want to know more. Protagonists and antagonists alike have me over here clamoring for their book so that I can find out more about them.  And in a world where your public persona means everything, nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems.

If you imagine Game of Thrones in space, you would get an idea of the role that family plays in this world as well.  Power, politics and loyalty aren’t always compatible and Polaris Rising does a beautiful job demonstrating both sides of the knife that comes with those dynamics with both blood and found families.

The love story between Ada and Loch was delightful.  There’s nothing better than a big burly man who makes most people run away screaming getting all soft and possessive over a woman.  I think if I heard him drawl darling in real life I’d likely melt.

Perhaps the best endorsement I can give this book is that I would happily pick it up on read it again even though I just finished it.  While I know I haven’t done this book justice in my review, please consider this me throwing the book at you and begging you to read it.  You won’t be disappointed!

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99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne 4 stars

January 9, 2019 Boookluvr Reads, Uncategorized 1

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne 4 stars99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Published by HarperCollins on January 29, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Women, Romance, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

Readers and critics alike raved over USA Today bestselling author Sally Thorne’s smash hit debut, The Hating Game, which has sold in over 20 countries. Now she’s back with an unforgettable romantic comedy about a woman who finally has a shot at her long time crush—if she dares.

Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

This next hilarious romance includes a special PS section with two Happily Ever Afters—one for this novel featuring Darcy and Tom and the other, an epilogue featuring fan favorites Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman from The Hating Game!

How many books have you read that had small elements that drove you crazy and pulled you out of the story?  Have you ever ended up loving a book despite the things that were jumping on your last nerve while you were reading?   Up until I read 99 Percent Mine I hadn’t and I honestly didn’t believe it was possible.

Let’s start with what drove me crazy.  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of 99 Percent Mine from Edelweiss which means some of this may be different between the ARC and the final copy.  As such, I will be specifically addressing the ARC copy that I read.

  1. There was some serious repetitive use of phrasing in this book.  so help me if I had to hear the heroine repeat her thoughts about being in a bubble one more time I was going to strangle her.
  2. This was a contemporary romance yet the Darcy continually has thoughts of Tom being a wolf.  Once or twice I wouldn’t have noticed but it was enough that my brain was wrapped around it.  Was this book suddenly going to morph into a PNR? It just felt out of place.
  3. Some general wording and transitioning was awkward and confusing.  Multiple times I found myself reading over a couple paragraphs three times trying to figure out what was happening.

So as you can see, there were plenty of irritants for me, but you know what… I also couldn’t put the book down.  I enjoyed the story so much that those things were secondary.  I loved Tom, he was just so swoon worthy.  A true gentle giant who never understood his own worth and is so determined to make everyone else happy.  He and Darcy had chemistry though the roof and you couldn’t help but understand why they were in love with each other for their entire lives.  You can’t help but root for them from the minute Tom arrives on the scene.  This of course means that you want to punch Darcy’s twin brother Jamie in the face throughout most of the book.  The author perfectly captured the dynamic that exists between siblings in this book.  I felt every moment of exasperation clear as day.

I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t as much of a slow burn romance as Thorne’s last book.  I was impatient for the characters to have sex as it was and would have lost my mind if it took forever.

I hope this is the start of a series and that we get to see Jamie and his secret crush find their way next.

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Diamond Fire – Ilona Andrews 4 stars

November 5, 2018 Uncategorized 2

Diamond Fire – Ilona Andrews 4 starsDiamond Fire by Ilona Andrews
Published by HarperCollins on November 6, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General, Fantasy
Pages: 384
Goodreads

Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle.  Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home.  Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic.  But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness.  Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I love all things Ilona Andrews so Hidden Legacy is no exception.  Not only do I enjoy the hell out of the characters the authors have created, but I also enjoy the concept of the magic world they have created.  Each book exposes us to a new set of powers, many I would have never come up with.

Diamond Fire is the latest installment in the Hidden Legacy world.  It’s an entertaining novella with a whodunit mixed in with what ends up feeling like the dysfunctional family olympics.  When it becomes clear members of Mad Rogan’s family are out to sabotage the wedding between Mad and Nevada, Catalina makes it her mission to make sure that the wedding goes off without a hitch.  As if that wasn’t challenging enough, she has to pull all of that off while making sure her sister has no idea that any of this treachery is taking place.

It was fun to see Catalina in more of a young adult role.  While we still get glimpses of the same vulnerability that stem both from her age and her powers, we also get to see her accept her powers and take the first step into the no doubt powerful woman she will become.  I don’t know about you, but I had never considered how her powers would have affected her childhood.  It gave me an entire new perspective on who Catalina is and why she is scared of using her powers.  It felt as though this novella was positioning Catalina to have her own future stories and I hope that is the case.  The glimpses we got into what her power can do when she exercises made it clear she will be a powerhouse in her own right.  As scared as people are of Nevada’s powers, I can only imagine what their reaction will be to Catalina’s.

The family dysfunction olympics in this book was really something to behold.  It’s a wonder that Mad and his mother are remotely well-adjusted when the rest of those people were such a piece of work.  I guess the good news is, Nevada and her family don’t have to worry that their drama is too much for the Rogan’s.

If you could live in the Hidden Legacy universe, what magic power would you have?

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Kill the Queen, Jennifer Estep 5 stars

October 2, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, Edelweiss 0

Kill the Queen, Jennifer Estep 5 starsKill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
Published by HarperCollins on October 2, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic, Romantic, Action & Adventure
Pages: 480
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

five-stars




Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

I’ve been a fan of Estep’s Elemental Assassin series for years, so when I saw that she had a new fantasy series coming out, I was intrigued.   While I read a lot of PNR/UF series, I hadn’t read much in the Fantasy genre so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into with the Crown of Shards series but I am happy to report that I was very pleasantly surprised.

Crown of Shards envelops the reader into a vivid world where politics and power are center stage.  Being a member of a royal family isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be for Everleigh Blair.  Her parents were assassinated, and after being shuffled in and out of various family member’s homes, she has found herself living at court where she’s discovered that anything and everything will be used against her.  As a result she’s hidden not only her emotions but also her true powers from everyone.

I tremendously enjoyed watching Evie discover her own potential after so many years spent living in a shadow.  It was easy to empathize with her desire to maintain the life she had built for herself when events around her were pushing her back into the world she desperately wanted out of.  I will say that Evie came across as more of a teenager vs an adult well into their 20s.  I’m not sure whether that was intentional and a way to reflect the impact of the life that she had lived or whether that was just my interpretation but it took some mental gymnastics for me to reset.  As a romance reader, I would have loved to have loved it if there would have been more romance in this book.  At one point I thought the relationship with Sullivan and Evie was finally going to turn the corner and give me something to swoon over, but alas I have to wait with my fingers crossed for future books.

Kill the Queen is a wonderful read full of characters and powers that will leave readers counting down the days until another installment in the Crown of Shards series is available.

five-stars

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Hot Winter Nights – Jill Shalvis 4 stars

September 25, 2018 Boookluvr Reads 1

Hot Winter Nights – Jill Shalvis 4 starsHot Winter Nights: Heartbreaker Bay by Jill Shalvis
Published by Headline on September 25, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

Hot Winter Nights is the sixth in New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis's Heartbreaker Bay series, featuring her trademark gift for humour, warmth and romance. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts and Marie Force.

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn't think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn't most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she's been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that-but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once...

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don't mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he's shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly's brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can't believe he's drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who's the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he's ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he's been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

Want more warm, funny romance? Check out the other Heartbreaker Bay novels starting with Sweet Little Lies, visit stunning Wildstone, gorgeous Cedar Ridge, spellbinding Lucky Harbor or experience some Animal Magnetism in Sunshine, Idaho in Jill's other unforgettable series.

The Heartbreaker Bay series is one of my favorite contemporary series.  Yes, part of that is because Jill Shalvis always delivers an HEA that makes me sigh happily at the end but perhaps even more than that is the role that friendship plays in every book.  Heartbreaker Bay goes one step beyond just friendship and straight into a chosen family.  While that doesn’t always make life easier for the characters, it is tremendously satisfying as a reader.

In prior installments of Heartbreaker Bay, we got glimpses of Molly and Lucas that had me hopeful they would get their own book so I was excited when I saw that Hot Winter Nights was centered on them.  While we had learned a lot about Molly’s history About That Kiss, I didn’t remember reading much about Lucas so I wasn’t sure what hurdles they would have to climb to find their HEA.

I loved the ways that Molly found to torment Lucas after he discovered they spent the night together the first time.  She is merciless in letting him believe more happened that night than her taking care of them and when his primary focus is how Joe and Archer will react I was right there with her in continuing that torment.  God save the women from Heartbreaker Bay from alpha men no matter how hot they are.

It was satisfying watching Lucas realize how amazing Molly was in her own right and to see him fight against Joe and Archer  keeping her wrapped in bubble wrap.  About the only thing that could have been more satisfying would have been seeing Lucas in that elf costume ;-).

But perhaps my following thing from this entire story is what Lucas’s mom said to Molly about love:

“I used to think that love was all about red roses and expensive dinners. But the truth is, love is letting your mate steal a piece of bread off your plate. It’s being awoken by snoring and refraining from shoving him out of bed. It’s talking in code and trying to embarrass one another in public. It’s going on adventures and making fun of each other. It’s stupid fights and memorable make-ups.” She squeezed Molly’s hand. “Love isn’t pretty and romantic. You know that, right? Love is just stumbling through life with your best friend.”

I couldn’t agree more!

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