Deadly Strain – Julie Rowe – 3.5 stars

June 15, 2015 Carina Press, NetGalley, Read in 2015 0 ★★★½

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Deadly Strain – Julie Rowe – 3.5 starsDeadly Strain by Julie Rowe
Published by Carina Press on 2015-06-15
Genres: Action & Adventure, Contemporary, Fiction, General, Military, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 242
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
three-half-stars
Book one of Biological Response Team

Major Grace Samuels, a trauma surgeon deployed to Afghanistan, spends her life helping her fellow soldiers overcome disease and combat injuries. But her own wounds are harder to heal. Wracked with guilt over the death of a fellow soldier, she finds comfort in her only friend and appointed bodyguard, weapons sergeant Jacob "Sharp" Foster.

Sharp feels more for Grace than a soldier should, more than he wants to admit. When the team discovers a new, quick-to-kill strain of anthrax, he tries to focus on the mission to find its source. He knows he can help Grace defeat her demons, but first they must defeat the deadly outbreak.

Sharp is Grace's most loyal ally, but in close quarters, he starts to feel like more. She can't watch someone else she cares about die—but she might not have a choice. The closer they get to finding the source of the strain, the closer it gets to finding them.

79,830 words

Interesting story about modern day biological warfare and those who work to keep us safe.  I look forward to more from this series as the work that went in to researching the biological weapon and special forces personnel showed in a believable threat with action that kept me interested during the story.

Grace just wants to do her job and do it well.  She wants nothing more than to save lives and make a difference to those she works with but she’s also haunted.  She will never forget people she’s served with and lost but one loss haunts her more than any other.  When they get a call to go check out a suspicious set of deaths at a relatively remote outpost, she has to come to terms with not only her past but the man who wants to be there for her future in order for any of them to have a future.  She’s driven and damn good at what she does which shines thru even as she doubts herself because of survivor’s guilt.  I liked how she would work herself to the bone in order to get answers but mainly liked that she does what she has to in order to survive and complete the mission.  She is someone that I would want in my corner should the worst happen as you know that she will sacrifice herself if it means more survive.

Jacob..  *swoon*…  he’s something else but I would expect him to be all that and a bag of chips.  He’s Special Forces but he’s also a man who has discovered the woman that makes him a bit crazy.  He’s driven to protect Grace from not only outside threats but also herself as he discovers more about how driven she is.  When he pushes her you understand her frustration with him but you also see why he pushes her to let go.  She needs someone who will act as a relatively neutral voice of reason in order to get her to eat and take care of what her body needs.  She really does need a babysitter in some respects but the way Jacob goes about it occasionally made me laugh.  He was someone that while driven to defend his woman also realized that she was quite capable of holding her own.  He didn’t coddle her but instead worked to make her see his side even as much as she hated that.

Overall this was an interesting story with some information that will frighten those who haven’t kept up with modern or heck even old-school biological warfare.  The weapon described is frightening in nature made more so by how much of a possibility this is.  I hope that we never see something like this created but one never knows what evil is out there.

 

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My Latest Addiction & How Long It Took To Get There – Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Series – Contest

June 3, 2015 Musings 2

Ok…  I must shamefully admit something –

Until April 2015 I was unable to get into the Kate Daniels series and I had tried to make it thru Magic Bites 5 times already but kept stopping about 30% in.

There I admitted it…  *hangs head*  I had heard so many people talk about the series and had enjoyed The Edge series by Ilona Andrews but for some reason could not get beyond about the 30% mark of Magic Bites.  This is a rare thing for me as I read fast and can normally push thru the beginning of a book up until 50% before I quit but for some reason this one didn’t resonate.  I had read some of the short stories and enjoyed what I read but this book just slayed me over and over.  Finally I decided that I was bound and determined to try one last time with the mental agreement to get to 50% before I threw in the towel.

Well… I hit 30% and was still not enthralled… 35% yeah still not there but something was starting to sort of click…

40% and dammit now you got me….

I blew thru the rest of the book in love at this point with the characters and the story then….  Yeah…

Book 2 was finished by the day after I finished book 1…

Book 3 went the next day….

Book 4 and 50% of book 5 the next day…

Book 5 and 50% of book 6…  yeah that went the next day.

Book 6 and 50% of book 7… yeah…  down the next day

The rest of book 7 down that last day and then I started the Twitter begging…

I NEED MAGIC SHIFTS NOW!!!!!!!

I also threw in there a bit of the short stories, Clean Sweep and Burn for Me as additional reads after my initial begging for MS plus am saving Gunmetal Magic as a read for when I am jonesing for something new from that world…

I made no secret that I am going to be shameless in my begging for it…  I will have no pride in order to get MORE MORE MORE!!!

Then we get to RT…

I may have been slightly shameless in my fangirling of Ilona and Gordon but dammit…  It may have taken me a long time to get there but now I am assuredly an addict and possibly scared them by saying I had let people within the Penguin Group know that I would be more than happy to take an ARC of Magic Shifts off their hands at any time (YESTERDAY I MEAN COME ON).  As always they were both very sweet and great to chat with even as I babbled…

So for those of you who know me and who kept pushing me to read this series…

Ok already…  You were right dammit…

For those of you who haven’t tried this series yet or are having the same issue that I did with getting stuck around 30%….. Go on…  make a deal with yourself to get to 50% before you throw in the towel…  My guess is you’ll end up as addicted to Kate and Curran as I am.

FYI – I still adore Kate’s first meeting with Curran… “Here Kitty, Kitty…”  this can still make me giggle…

 

And because I want to give someone else the chance to start out…  I am going to give away a Kindle or Nook copy of Magic Bites to one commenter.  Just tell me if you’ve ever had this happen with a series others adore by June 15, 2015 at midnight US Central.

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Asking For It – Lilah Pace – 5 stars – Excerpt/Contest

June 1, 2015 Berkley Trade, Contest, NetGalley, Read in 2015, Tours 1 ★★★★★

Asking For It – Lilah Pace – 5 stars – Excerpt/Contest

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Asking For It – Lilah Pace – 5 stars – Excerpt/ContestAsking for It by Lilah Pace
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on 2015-06-02
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
five-stars
“This is who I am. This is what I want. Now I need a man dangerous enough to give it to me.” 

Graduate student Vivienne Charles is afraid of her own desires—ashamed to admit that she fantasizes about being taken by force, by a man who will claim her completely and without mercy. When the magnetic, mysterious Jonah Marks learns her secret, he makes an offer that stuns her: they will remain near-strangers to each other, and meet in secret so that he can fulfill her fantasy.

Their arrangement is twisted. The sex is incredible. And—despite their attempts to stay apart—soon their emotions are bound together as tightly as the rope around Vivienne’s wrists. But the secrets in their pasts threaten to turn their affair even darker...

Reader Advisory: Asking for It deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.

This is going to be a very long post as I want to get you excited to read this one….  I was blown away by this title and hope that people will be drawn to it like I was.  This is NOT for everyone and the warning should be heeded.

My review:

I think all of us that have read this struggle with the same thing which is “How do we review this?”  I mean this is an incredible story but the subject material isn’t for everyone but the way Lilah is able to show you how torn Vivienne is about her needs makes the story oddly compelling.  The thing that spoke to me most throughout this book is the way we see her crave the rough usage from our hero even as she finds her needs disgusting and wrong.  She’s got a lot of work to do to realize that while her needs are the same as everyone else’s they aren’t wrong nor are they something to be ashamed of.  The key is that she has to come to an understanding about her past and perhaps finally get someone to believe her about the incident from her past that colors everything.

Vivienne is a character that made me wince, cry and cheer as she finally gets something that makes her stronger.  The ability to find someone that can fulfill her darkest desires unlocks the true woman she is.  She finds strength in this new relationship that makes it where she actually wants her connection with our hero to be more than just the fulfillment of her desires.  As she navigates her own mental recovery she is compelled to understand why her partner is also drawn to this as he seems to be struggling with demons as well.  I am being careful in this review to not spoil things because the way they unfold is the main reason why I adored this story.

Jonah is our dark horse because we don’t get to see his viewpoint in this that often.  His actions speak volumes and what glimpses we get make me want to know more.  He has his own demons to slay but his care of her shines out.  I admit he made me flinch a few times but after the scene when he wants to actually care for her made me adore him.  I look forward to seeing where we go with him in the next book because DAMN is he compelling.

I can’t say it enough but I am BEYOND ready for book 2!!!!

Excerpt:

“It’s okay. This is difficult.” He pauses a moment before adding, “Are you scared?”

Deep breath. Honest answer. “Yes and no. I believe you aren’t going to do anything without my permission. But what we’re doing feels a little like jumping off a cliff. I’ve had this fantasy since – since always, but I never thought I’d act it out with a stranger –”

At that moment, a waiter appears by our sofa. Why do bar waiters only show up when you least want them around? Offhandedly Jonah says, “Bring me whatever she’s having.”

I don’t think he’s even looked at my glass. What if I had some ridiculous tropical drink, the kind of thing served in a pineapple with pink straws and paper umbrellas? The thought of someone as serious as Jonah sipping one of those makes me smile. Finally I’m able to relax a little – but not much.

As soon as the waiter hurries off, Jonah turns to me. “What would it take to make you feel safe?”

I like that he asked this. But how do I answer?

Cut to the chase, I remind myself. Jonah’s blunt honesty is the only way to go. “I’d need you to wear condoms. Unless you want to show me your medical records.”

Jonah nods. “I can get those for you. Can you show me test results too?”

It hadn’t even occurred to me that Jonah also might be concerned about that. “Um. Yeah, sure.”

“No rush,” he says. “I don’t mind wearing a condom at first. Makes it last longer.”

My cheeks flush as I envision Jonah inside me, pounding me, going on and on and on without mercy –

Jonah must know what I’m thinking, because he tilts his head as if he’s relishing the effect he has on me. He murmurs, “What else?”

Another sip of wine steadies me enough to answer. “I wouldn’t want you to tie me up. Not the first time, anyway.”

He smiles. “I like that you’re thinking about the future. I’ll have plenty of chances to give you what you want.”

It hadn’t even occurred to me before today that Jonah might have been considering a one-time fling. Now that I think about it, that makes more sense than assuming we’d keep playing out this scenario. But I’ve wanted this too long, too much, to assume one night will be enough to get it out of my system. If Jonah’s the right partner for this fantasy, then we have a chance I don’t intend to waste.

Already I sense that one taste of Jonah Marks won’t be enough.

 

Contest:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Under the Lights – Shannon Stacey – 4 stars

May 28, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015, Sent 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Under the Lights – Shannon Stacey – 4 starsUnder the Lights by Shannon Stacey
Published by Penguin on 2015-05-26
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-stars
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Kowalski Family novels, a sweet, sexy new series about taking hits, making second chances, and finding love…

They were the golden boys of fall: Stewart Mills High School’s legendary championship winning football team. Fourteen years later, they’re back to relive their glory, save the team—and find themselves again…

Chase Sanders’s life has taken a lot of crazy turns lately. But returning to his hometown to help his old coach keep his high school football team afloat might be the craziest thing to happen to him yet. That is, until he starts falling for the last person he should—Coach’s gorgeous daughter…

Kelly McDonnell learned the hard way that cocky, charming men are nothing but trouble, so she knows Chase is bad news. Still, she can’t resist his smile—or the rest of him. But when his loyalty to her father conflicts with their growing attraction, any hope for a relationship might be blocked before it can even begin…

Where do I start?  As most of you know I am a HUGE Shannon Stacey fan and have managed to get my mom and others addicted to her stories over the past few years.  I wanted to love this story as much as I LOVE the Kowalski’s but I must admit I miss my things of DOOM references.  This was a lovely story that I quite enjoyed but I admittedly do miss getting more of the family I adore.

In this book we get to meet a man who is in the process of losing everything to a dishonest partner and has lost a woman he thought he would spend his life with.  We see a broken man who has worked so hard to get to where he is at but now what does he have?  He’s asked to help out a man who believed in him and became a father to him so why not take this time to escape his new reality while trying to figure out what to do…  He’s broken in some ways but strong in so many others that he just doesn’t see and you just want to beat him over the head with it.  You want to yell at him “You are so much more than a broken man…”  I enjoyed how much he was willing to help out those who are in more dire straits than himself while not burdening or whining to others about what he’s going thru.  I didn’t enjoy him keeping it all to himself as it didn’t help him or anything to keep completely quiet.  He’s very honorable and that is part of what makes him almost miss the best thing that could ever happen to him.

We meet a woman who quite honestly wears her heart on her sleeve even as she tries to keep it hidden.  She does so much for so many but struggles with wanting to be seen as someone on her own two feet.  She wants something she believes needs to come from someone safe but what she needs is someone that is also strong.  She wants everything planned to the nth degree and love isn’t something that can be planned.  You find it when you least expect and in packages that at times are completely opposite what you think you wanted.  She has such a good sense of humor when the “boys” get drunk and go wandering but I enjoyed it most when she truly stood up for what she wanted.  She’s tough, honest and while she wants to keep her little “fling” hidden from the town she never lies to our hero about why this is important.  She never expected him to be anything other than a fling and he never promised her anything.

These two do give us a wonderful story and I do look forward to more of this series.  I’m sure they will become just as addictive as the Kowalski clan in their own way…

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Let It Ride – Vivian Arend – 5 stars

May 26, 2015 Read in 2015, Sent 0 ★★★★★

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Let It Ride – Vivian Arend – 5 starsLet It Ride by Vivian Arend
Published by NLA Digital LLC on 2015-05-19
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Western
Pages: 187
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
five-stars
He’s her rock in the midst of the storm

When Maggie Ward’s world is torn apart by sudden tragedy, the only thing that makes her days bearable is Clay Thompson’s unwavering presence. He’s protective, caring, and everything she could ask for in a friend. But when she finds herself longing for more than friendship, it will take a little seduction to convince the stubborn mechanic she’s ready to start living again.

She’s his heart, whether he knows it or not

Clay Thompson’s got the taking-care-of-others business down pat, only he’s never faced this particular challenge before—the one woman he’s always wanted is unexpectedly his to care for. Suddenly it's not just responsibility driving him, but a wild desire to make Maggie truly his. But following his heart might mean sacrificing the family he’s held together for years.

Tissue Warning on this one!!!

I have to say you will need them at the beginning and again as things come to a head but…  this story is so worth the pain.  There is something about the pair and how they truly do find a match in one another which honestly is true to what some people experience in their lives.  While the beginning was a bit brutal the love that they share made up for the pain.

Maggie has had everything collapse around her but the one thing she counts on is her friendship with Clay.  She’s strong and definitely hurting but I loved her dedication to living life and not hiding from everything that has happened.  You’ll love her willingness to admit when she needs help but also love that she doesn’t always need it.  She is strong and she’ll need to be in order to prove to everyone that she’s the best match for a strong man.  While not everyone will approve of their relationship I think that it was perfect and quite honestly where she needed to be.  Her willingness to open her heart back up to a man who meant so much to her and her past was wonderful to see but also to see that she truly saw him as his own person made me happiest.  She isn’t trying to replace what she had but is reaching for life again where she’s happy and whole.

Clay was amazing.  He’s so strong and caring that you’ll adore him as he struggles with doing what he thinks is right and taking what he wants.  Once he makes his mind up well….  actually hmmmmmm Maggie made it damn hard for him to stay “honorable” which is what he needed in order to be hers.  He’s also very family driven and what happens in this story made me mad for him and had my heart break a bit.  This moment doesn’t diminish the story in any way but makes it very clear what he wants and needs.  I enjoyed seeing his care and concern for Maggie with regards to sentiment in town but honestly she’s strong enough and to see her call him on his ways made me smile.  I also enjoyed that the one thing that could’ve kept them apart is what made them strong enough to reach for what was in front of them.

You get two strong people who have been brought to their knees by tragedy but where they end up is a beautiful place with a bit of trouble along the way…  I loved this story and can’t wait for more….

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Moment of Clarity – Karen Stivali – 5 stars

May 6, 2015 NetGalley, Read in 2015, Sent 0 ★★★★★

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Moment of Clarity – Karen Stivali – 5 starsPublished by Dreamspinner Press Format: eARC
Source: the Author
AmazonBarnes & Noble five-stars
Moments in Time: Book Three

Spending the summer together on Fire Island brought Collin and Tanner closer than ever, but back in their conservative college town, challenges confront them at every turn.

As they search for their new normal in their old environment, Collin's brother Sean surprises them with help when they need it most. But when word about their relationship gets out, trouble erupts with friends and family. When Collin's relationship with Tanner becomes an issue in his brother's custody battle and Tanner struggles with his feelings for a heartbroken Wendy, Collin wonders if everyone he cares about would be better off without him in the picture.

In order to save them both, Tanner must make it clear to Collin that their love for each other is all that matters.

This series has been a very enlightening one with realistic stressors on our heroes and a chance for some to see the varied reactions that can happen when someone comes out.  I found Karen’s treatment of Collin and Tanner to be handled with a deft hand as not everything will be perfect but love can truly overcome all.

Tanner and Collin have gone thru a lot of things and of course we can’t have their lives be completely drama-free.  They are looking forward to getting back in the dorms but unfortunately there has been a small incident that means they can’t check in.  They end up bunking temporarily with Collin’s brother who is going thru his own drama with a wife that has abandoned him and the kids.  They have a good life and routine going while they wait for the dorms to complete but still can’t completely be together which is driving them insane.  A moment of weakness results in a disaster that runs them over to a friend until their dorm becomes available.

Life in the dorms is going well… School is going well…. and then disaster strikes in the form of homophobic behavior and the boys are trying to deal with the fall out when a true friend gives them a chance to have a home without fear or having to hide who they are to one another.  They are starting to be happy and then yet another strike comes at Collin which makes him do something that I truly wanted to slap him for being so dense but I did get why he thought what he thought.  I loved Tanner’s mother and what she does even as Collin tries to separate himself from everyone.

My favorite moment has to be the ending as we finally get Collin to be accepted by those around him and get the support he so desperately needed.  He’s finally grown in to his skin which shines thru to those around him.  The moments at the end give you hope and a great feeling for their future.

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Make You Mine – Jackie Ashenden – 4.5 stars

May 5, 2015 NetGalley, Read in 2015, St. Martin's Press 1 ★★★★½

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Make You Mine – Jackie Ashenden – 4.5 starsMake You Mine by Jackie Ashenden
Published by Macmillan on 2015-05-05
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Gothic, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-half-stars
In the Nine Circles Club, one lucky man gets more than his share of money, power, and women--until he meets a beautiful opponent who plays in the name of love…in Make You Mine by Jackie Ashenden.
He's raising the stakes.
International playboy Alex St. James always plays to win. Whether it's betting on a high-stakes card game--or bedding a high-class socialite--the gorgeous world-class gambler knows how to beat the odds using his brains, his body, and a whole lot of charm. But there's one woman who's immune to Alex's bag of tricks--which makes her the perfect challenge…and the ultimate prize.
She's going all in.

Once a special operative in her native Russia, Katya Ivanov knows what kind of man Alex is. As his personal bodyguard, she's seen him seduce the richest women, place the riskiest bets, and break the hardest players. But to even a score from her past, she's willing to take a gamble on her reckless boss. Even if she has to pretend to be his lover. Even if he drives her mad with desire. And then she never wants this dangerous game to end…

This story made me very happy!  We have a really strong heroine with a hero that can definitely keep up but can’t keep his guard up around a woman who makes him feel.

Alex has a lot of secrets that he has buried for years.  This has cost him his family but also has hardened him to the point where he thinks all he wants is a quick bit of play and then move on to the next no-strings-attached fling.  He plays hard and unless you are paying attention you will see him as a playboy with a ton of money who really doesn’t care for anything.  After dice are found with his stepfather that gain access to an exclusive poker tourney it is determined that he needs to be the one who attends.  Alex wouldn’t have let it be anyone else but now he needs to figure out how to keep protection around him without making the person he is targeting aware of it.  His idea is to use his female bodyguard but when he sees her in something other than work clothes and also spends more time around her…. well…  then it gets complicated.  His story will make you mad, sad and then joyful as we find out his past then celebrate his future with a partner who truly knows him.

Katya is an amazing heroine in many respects.  She and Alex are definitely peas in a pod in more ways than they know so seeing two extremely stubborn people find one another was explosive.  There is so much she has kept buried for so many years in order to make others happy so she struggles with figuring out what it is she wants and needs.  The fact that she is absolutely loyal to those who don’t really deserve it was heartbreaking but I still enjoyed her even with the big chill she presents.  She’s not cold in any way, shape or form but she needed to find someone that could push her to expand her limits.  She’s also intriguing in the way we see her start to feel… be a woman with wants and needs… but mainly open up to someone that deserves it.

I can’t wait for the next story as the pair will be quite entertaining….  he’s going to make it clear to her that she’s HIS….

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The Confession – Sierra Kincade – 4 stars

May 5, 2015 Berkley Trade, NetGalley, Read in 2015, Readathon 2015 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Confession – Sierra Kincade – 4 starsThe Confession by Sierra Kincade
Published by Penguin on 2015-05-05
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-stars
The hot and thrilling conclusion to the Body Work Trilogy, following The Masseuse and The Distraction

Anna Rossi walked away from Alec Flynn to keep her family and friends safe. But she can’t protect her heart from him, no matter how hard she tries…

Time has done nothing to quell Anna’s need for Alec. She knows that she did the right thing walking away; the constant media attention that Alec’s been getting for testifying against Maxim Stein and Force Enterprises is evidence enough of that. But no matter how many times she warns herself that Alec is dangerous, she just can’t stay away—even after her connection to him once again threatens her life…

Alec knows the evidence he has against Max could stop him from hurting anyone ever again. But when it’s revealed that Alec stands to inherit everything from Max’s loss, his testimony is called into question—and Max could walk free putting Anna in harms’ ways once again. Now he’s beginning to wonder if any of this is even worth it—and if he and Anna will ever have a chance at true happiness…

We have finally reached the end of Alec and Anna’s story and while I am sad to see it end I am happy that we finally have a conclusion.  I am happy with the way it played out but still want to have more about their friends and family.

Anna hasn’t been happy since she walked away from Alec to save everyone she loves.  She just wants people to be safe around her even if it means tearing her heart out.  She’s almost ready to run away again when she is abducted.  She ends up having Alec save her but finds out something that truly tears her apart…. is it what it seems or is there more?  I liked her strength in this one even as everything twisted around her.  She’s not willing to play the victim and we get to see more of her struggling to do what is right plus hold on to what she really wants.  They are still hot as hell when they get together but there is more to it this time.  I think I enjoyed it because there was more behind them this time and we saw more of Alec’s vulnerability.

Alec has consistently been a character that I found fascinating.  Under this tough guy exterior is a man who wants nothing more than to be loved and have those he loves be safe.  He is driven to do anything he can to keep Anna and those she holds dear safe even as it means keeping away from her.  I enjoyed seeing his love for Anna shine even as he tried to keep the walls up.  He adores her with all of his being and his ability to give her what she needs is wonderful.

This series grew on me as I found out more and more about them.  I am happy with where it ends up but honestly want to see Amy and Mike… really I want to see where they end up… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE…

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The Talon of the Hawk – Jeffe Kennedy – 5 stars

May 4, 2015 Kensington, NetGalley, Read in 2015 1 ★★★★★

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Talon of the Hawk – Jeffe Kennedy – 5 starsThe Twelve Kingdoms: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation on 2015-05-26
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
five-stars
A HEAVY CROWN

Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

Pssstttt…  go here before noon on 5/10 to try to win a paper copy of this….  now…  yeah…  you want it…

This was my favorite of the series…  I adored the hero in this and also loved seeing the full picture finally be visible.  We have a chance to see the other sisters but this is definitely a story about a woman who NEVER really got to be herself.  Watching this strong woman be broken apart and then finally allowed to come in to her own was worth every minute it took to read the book.

This story opens with Ursula finally heading back home to report to her father and the news she has isn’t going to be something he wants to hear.  What she doesn’t realize is there is more going on at home and it isn’t good.  She’s unsettled when she arrives and notes that the surrounding area is quiet plus strangers are at the gates.  She’s confronted by these soldiers and realizing they are hired mercenaries does not put her at ease.  She also sees the area bursting at the seams with a populace that seems to be not only frightened but seemingly lacking hope that anything good is coming.  She’s even more unsettled as she sees a strange man standing by her father as he gives her a very public dressing down.  The man unsettles her but she’s still hopeful there is something good still in her father even as he cavorts with a new woman.  As she starts to try to get back in her father’s good graces we get to see her struggle with his increasing madness and obvious corruption.  It takes others pushing her to run for her life to get her to open her eyes about the real peril she is in.  I enjoyed her but truly loved what she becomes as our hero pushes her to lance the deep wounds she has carried since childhood.  This poison was killing her and by finally finding someone that was there for her…  only her… she finally gets to have a partner to carry her burdens.

Harlan… *fans self* dear stubborn yet sweet Harlan….  only you could reach her even as she tried her damnedest to push you away.  I hated the final fight but knew you would stick by her side until the end unless she definitively said leave but my bet is you would still find a way to help her from afar.  I enjoyed the way you worked past her defenses while still pushing her to be all that she could be.  You don’t want her to completely change but you wanted her to finally be honest with herself and see things without being clouded by blind loyalty.  I adored your ways of showing her your strength but mainly enjoyed how you acknowledged her strength and just held her without judgement when she finally allowed you to know her worst secret.  I loved how you let her get it out and then worked hard to show her nothing of it was her fault.  You didn’t coddle her like a victim (which she was) but you made sure to clearly state who was at fault.  She is a lucky lucky woman to have your devotion.

I will be nice and warn Jeffe now….  I WILL BE GIVING YOU A BIG OLD HUG AT RT.  While I am still not a huge fan of Ami I adored Ursula and Harlan.  This was a perfect end to the tale and while I will always want more…  I am happy with the way this trilogy played out.

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The Tears of the Rose – Jeffe Kennedy – 4 stars

May 4, 2015 Kensington, Read in 2015, Sent 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Tears of the Rose – Jeffe Kennedy – 4 starsThe Twelve Kingdoms: The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy
Published by Kensington Books on 2014-11-25
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: the Author
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-stars
Three sisters. Motherless daughters of the high king. The eldest is the warrior-woman heir; the middle child is shy and full of witchy intuition; and the youngest, Princess Amelia, she is as beautiful as the sun and just as generous.

Ami met her Prince Charming and went away to his castle on the stormy sea-cliffs--and that should have been her happily ever after. Instead, her husband lies dead and a war rages. Her middle sister has been taken into a demon land, turned into a stranger. The priests and her father are revealing secrets and telling lies. And a power is rising in Ami, too, a power she hardly recognizes, to wield her beauty as a weapon, and her charm as a tool to deceive. . .

Amelia has never had to be anything but good and sweet and kind and lovely. But the chess game for the Twelve Kingdoms has swept her up in it, and she must make a gambit of her own. Can the prettiest princess become a pawn--or a queen?

For a chance to win a paper copy of The Talon of the Hawk please go here.

I am going to admit something…  This is my least favorite sister of the series but her book is well done.  I didn’t dislike her as strongly after this as I did by the end of the last book but she still isn’t the favorite one of the trio.  I also found the way this story unfolds to be intriguing and it left me ready for MORE.

We know Ami as the spoiled one… the favorite daughter of the High King who has always gotten what she wanted.  She’s managed to find a man who adores her but then has her perfect life ruined by his death.  She’s driven to find out who killed her precious true love and when she finds out it was her sister…  well then her sister is evil.  I got why she was upset but her refusal to even listen to those around her trying to get her to understand what happened just served to enforce the spoiled rotten view of her.  Her adoration and devotion to being the spoiled princess devoted only to her Goddess and her now-deceased love takes a bit of a beating as she starts to be intrigued by a monk in white that seems to push her to be more than just a pretty face.  As she finally starts to open her eyes to the world around her we finally get to see a woman emerge that may prove to be a formidable foe for the challenges that lie ahead.  I enjoyed seeing her finally realize that her actions have true consequences and that she needs to make her own mind up in order to truly see what is waiting for her in her future.  She’s stronger than I expected once the worst of the bratty child goes away.

Ash…  I enjoyed this scarred man who wasn’t swayed by the bratty princess but pushed her to be something more.  He’s such a sweet man under the scars and attitude but mainly his heart shines thru to show a man driven by duty and love.  His strength and unique talents serve this tale well plus set up some action we see in the next book.  I loved how he didn’t accept her originally and actually wasn’t afraid to show her how badly she has acted over the years.  He shows her that life didn’t end when Hugh was killed but that she not only could live again… she could find a love that in most respects is truer than the one she thought was perfect.  He wants her not the avatar… not the beautiful princess..  not a woman to be spoiled and worshipped but…  a woman with flaws and all that is true to herself and not a puppet on a string.  His sacrifices for her were amazing and beautiful.

Overall this is a good story with a few surprises but mainly I found this to be a big redemption for a character I wasn’t fond of in any way, shape, or form from the last book.  I liked how she was changing and was very glad to see her come out of her spoiled background.

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