Posts By: Steph

My Love/Hate Relationship with Audiobooks

June 19, 2017 Musings 1

So many of you know that I recently started actively enjoying audiobooks… Some of you may know that I have always struggled with them because of my ability to read at a fast pace which made the slower pace of audio maddening.

I have since discovered that having them running while I am working on projects at work has helped me focus more and be better able to tune out the noise of working in an open concept work-space where noise is a huge distraction.  This ability to have a story to focus on in the background while working on client items has proven to be refreshing and stress reducing.

This however has also made me notice the key component in a good audiobook – the narrator!!!!!  If you have a good narrator then the story flows without being distracted by poorly done or exaggerated character voices.  This really bothered me with The Beast in Him as the drawl or attempts at a drawl were so far off what I expected from the characters that I found myself annoyed.  I know this might not be a popular opinion but everyone has their expectations for the voice of a character so when the voice is not what one expects it can be jarring.  I also am perhaps a bit biased with the way a drawl should sound so this perhaps was not a good one for me to listen to.

I have also learned that perhaps it is best for me to listen to books without having previously read them as then the mental voice is not set for me so I can be more open to the narrator’s interpretation.  This has proven expensive and useful with my glomming of Goddess with a Blade and the Elder Races series.  I cannot get them at my library so each has been purchased but…

If you have a Kindle take advantage of adding audio to the ebook because in many cases this ends up cheaper even with buying the ebook…. YES THIS IS ODDLY TRUE!!!  I’ve found that I can often save $8+ by purchasing the ebook and adding audio vs just buying the audio… *sigh* but hey whatever works …

This also leads me to wanting to be more active with my local library system in order to get more of the authors I love available to more of the local community.

Audiobooks have now proven to be a nice addition to my life as they have allowed me to continue my love of stories even as my life with school and work take over my free time.  I look forward to continuing to review these audiobooks every Monday but wanted to share why they now work for me.

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Audiobook – If You Know Her – Shiloh Walker – 4.5 stars

June 12, 2017 Audiobook, Listened to in 2017, Reviewer -, Steph 2

Audiobook – If You Know Her – Shiloh Walker – 4.5 starsIf You Know Her by Shiloh Walker
Published by Tantor Media on 2012
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary
Pages: 390
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A SHADOW IN THE WINDOW

Nia Hollister doesn’t scare easily. She’s returned to Ash, Kentucky, with a vengeance—and with a mission: find the killer who brutally ended her cousin’s life. What she didn’t count on was trembling with desire every time she sees Law Reilly. If any man can help her escape the nightmares for a while, it’s him. But can she allow herself to take comfort in those strong arms when her sister’s killer still roams free?

She may think she’s a bad ass, but she should not have come back to his town. He is watching her—as she slips into Law Reilly’s house, as she storms into the sheriff’s office. These men won’t be able to protect her when her time comes. Timing is everything, though he can’t wait forever. She’s nosing around the woods, looking for his hiding place. Yes, he is watching her . . . through the window . . . in her bed . . .

If she’s not scared, she should be . . . because he is very good at what he does.

This is the last in the series where we FINALLY get to know who the killer is.  This book has a great amount of heat between our hero and heroine but mainly we finally get to know who the killer is.  I can honestly say that I did know who it was from book one but I know many who read/listened to it did not have a true clue.  There was suspicion but as others have said there is misdirection that makes some doubt their instincts.

Nia isn’t a girlie girl or in any way a woman who wants to be just a wife … She’s very independent and driven to figure out who actually killed her cousin.  She’s not happy with what she’s found out and comes back to Ash to get to the bottom of this.  She’s got a partner in Ezra and in Law but she isn’t willing to sit back to let Ezra slowly uncover the truth.  She pushes.  She makes inquiries that cause the killer to become worried.  She just won’t back down even as attacks and incidents start to occur that make it clear the killer isn’t happy with her actions.  She also is fiercely attracted to Law but isn’t easily caught by him.  When she finally lets him in for a fling what results is more than she expects so she does make some errors.  I do like that she stayed true to her character so even the dark moment was expected even as I was pissed about it.

Law is at a crossroads…  His best friend has now managed to get her life back and is moving on with the love of her life.  His former crush has moved on with the love of her life … and… Law… well Law is still trying to understand what caused him to be instantly, crazily attracted to Nia.  He writes that off as she won’t be back around but then she storms back in to town.  He’s definitely protective but he doesn’t completely try to control her.  He wants her safe and to wait for help versus storm the castle alone.  I liked how growly he was but also the fact that once he had her that he didn’t hold back.  He was in love completely and still made sure that Nia was able to make her own mind up.  He knows that she isn’t going to be easy but he’s willing to play the long game in order to get the results he wants.

Now…  the killer… He’s completely fucked up and when you get more of his story you’ll be stunned at how good he was at putting on a facade.  He’s hidden himself from the public so well and the lengths he goes to in order to try to get out of this is stunning.  We do have some casualties but that is expected and there will be a lot of work to do for Ezra to get his new town thru it.  Ash will never be the same as they recover from this.

four-half-stars

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Audiobook – If You See Her – Shiloh Walker – 4 stars

June 5, 2017 Audiobook 2

Audiobook – If You See Her – Shiloh Walker – 4 starsIf You See Her by Shiloh Walker
on 2012
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 391
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

A FACE IN THE MIRROR

Hope Carson may not look like a survivor, but she has escaped an abusive ex-husband and recovered from a vicious assault. Now she endures the painful memories and suspicious rumors surrounding her involvement in the attack. Her ex is a cop, so the last people she trusts are law enforcement officials—and she certainly doesn’t trust how the local DA makes her feel inside.

Remy Jennings should know better. He has no business falling for a woman who he suspects may have a deeply troubled mind. And even if he did make a move, she’d bolt like a frightened rabbit. But how can he deny a burning desire that threatens to consume him? As Hope’s past catches up with her in the worst way, Remy is determined to break through her defenses, earn her trust, and keep her safe in his arms—before it’s too late.

We enter book two in this trilogy and still don’t have a bead on who the killer is but… as I said in my review of book one I did have an idea which seemed to get firmed up a bit in this one for me.  We get to see more on Lena and Ezra so that makes it nice to get to understand their relationship a bit more but this book really does pull Hope and Remy to the forefront.

Hope is someone who desperately needs to be free from her past but she can’t outrun it nor is she ready to truly face it in the beginning of this story.  She will make you happy as she fights so hard for her friend Law but she is so scared of her past that she doesn’t always fight for herself.  I loved her spirit as she realized that some people were on her side and that Remy was not what she expected.  She also shows her true strength as she finally stands up for herself in so many ways.  You’ll enjoy her spunk and watching her finally own what she wants and who she is.  As someone who has felt like she was invisible and her feelings/wants weren’t important by those who should have been supportive… I cheered her on.

Remy made me smile so many times during this story.  He really is so amazingly supportive of Hope but even he struggled to balance his need to protect her and his need to make sure she knew she was strong enough.  He also struggles with making sure that he isn’t misreading her reactions to him.  He wants her so much but also knows that she’s been thru so much so struggles to balance this so she can heal.  I adored him but appreciated it when he made mistakes and Hope called him on them.  This helped both of them find that middle ground where both of their needs were heard and met.

The story is fairly fast paced and I admit to being quite sad when someone I liked fulfilled his part in this story.  I didn’t see that coming but at the same time I appreciated why it went the way it did.  I also quite enjoyed seeing Law play a larger role in this and the way it played out folding so nicely in to the next story.  This is definitely a trilogy where waiting until all three books were out was such a great idea.  I don’t know if I would’ve been happy waiting for the third story to release…

Narration was nicely done with the pacing and vocal nuances adding to the story without distracting me from the characters.

four-stars

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Audiobook – If You Hear Her – Shiloh Walker – 4 stars

May 29, 2017 Audiobook, Listened to in 2017 1

Audiobook – If You Hear Her – Shiloh Walker – 4 starsIf You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker
on April 30, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Thrillers
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

A CRY IN THE WOODS

The scream Lena Riddle hears in the woods behind her house is enough to curdle her blood—she has no doubt that a woman is in real danger. Unfortunately, with no physical evidence, the local law officers in small-town Ash, Kentucky, dismiss her claim. But Lena knows what she heard—and it leaves her filled with fear and frustration.

Ezra King is on leave from the state police, but he can’t escape the guilty memories that haunt his dreams. When he sees Lena, he is immediately drawn to her. He aches to touch her—to be touched by her—but is he too burdened by his tragic past to get close? When Ezra hears her story of an unknown woman’s screams, his instincts tell him that Lena’s life is also at risk—and his desire to protect her is as fierce as his need to possess her.

For those of you who know me… this idea of me listening to books goes against everything I’ve ever said about audiobooks.  I have found a time and place where I can actually stand them now so be prepared to see more reviews of audiobooks.

In this case, I finally got around to the Ash trilogy by Shiloh Walker.  The narrator was fun to listen to and the book flowed well.  I did find that the story was tight and I wasn’t completely invested in Ezra and Lena until closer to the end but the story was fun to follow.

There is something up in the small town of Ash, Kentucky that is sinister and depraved.  We get introduced to most of the main characters of the trilogy in this title but we will have to wait until the last two books to completely flesh out the story.  We see a man at a crossroads with no plans for the future but a mess to resolve from his past.  I admittedly was invested in Ezra as soon as we met him because there is something about a man struggling with injuries and trauma that draws me in.  He’s strong but there is a vulnerability and softness that shines thru as we get to know him.  This is a good man who has had his foundations taken out from under him and he’s smarting from what he thinks is his instincts letting him down.  He’s a curious man though so when things start to happen you aren’t going to see him just ignore them to take the easy path.  I liked how he accepted Lena from the beginning even if he did make some mistakes along the way.

Lena was something else.  I liked her but I did a bit frustrated as she tended to react first when people were trying to help her rather than actually understand where they were coming from.  She had times where that reaction was the right one but it did get me a bit upset a couple of times as I saw her reaction being a bit misguided.  Before anyone takes my head off… yes I get where she was coming from in that others had often taken it upon themselves to talk over her or do things in the interest of her best interests.. I get it… I really do but there are a couple of times where she jumps to that conclusion with people who haven’t done that to her.  I appreciated that she owns up when she overreacts and that the ones who are caught in the fire don’t hold that moment against her.  I also appreciate her calling people out when they do it in the way that is condescending and troubling… see I am capable of seeing where there are issues and love that she speaks up.  She’s strong and her willingness to call Ezra on his shit made me smile.

The overall story arc is awesome so I will just say make sure to put aside time to listen to or read all three titles in a row.  I am happy to say that I figured out who the villain is in the series in book 2 but there are hints in this one that niggled at me but didn’t firm up until book 2.  I can see why people might miss the hints but the stories are interesting with twists one might not see coming.  Take a chance and read or listen to this series… I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

four-stars

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Release Day – Surrender the Dark – Tibby Armstrong – Contest & Excerpt

May 23, 2017 Contest, Excerpt 1

As a provocative series of paranormal temptation begins, a vampire king seduces the supernaturally gifted man hunting him. But when the stakes are literally life or death, their struggle for control is no game.

Benjamin Fuller is a hunter, born and bred. Blinded as a child by the vampire who slaughtered his family, he’s blessed with a second sight that allows him to catch and kill his quarry. What his gift can’t help him see coming is his fierce, almost carnal attraction to the mystery man who claims to be a fellow hunter and whose touch triggers both lust and revulsion. When he gains the upper hand, Benjamin vows to bring his enemy to his knees.

After many years spent in exile, the only one who can help restore Tzadkiel Dragoumanos to his rightful place as War King is a blind hunter with golden curls, a lithe dancer’s physique, and distinctive facial scars—scars Tzadkiel gave him two decades ago. The mere scent of Benjamin Fuller provokes an unwelcome rush of insatiable desire. Yet to win an all-out supernatural war, Tzadkiel must resist the ravenous hunger to possess his prey—for now.

Purchase:

Kindle – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D7CJ3Z0/

Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/surrender-the-dark-tibby-armstrong/1123563499?ean=9780399593352

iBooks – https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/surrender-the-dark/id1139530733?mt=11&at=1001lmSp

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/surrender-the-dark-1

GooglePlay – https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Tibby_Armstrong_Surrender_the_Dark?id=1ajFCwAAQBAJ

 

Excerpt:

Benjamin jerked back at the contact with Tzadkiel’s mouth and attempted to shove the vampire away. Tzadkiel, however, was quicker. Hand gripping Benjamin’s nape in a way that spoke of centuries—perhaps millennia—of practice, Tzadkiel held him immobile. The royal purple aura flashed and brightened with something Benjamin’s hunter-senses recognized as desire. Flesh, warm and supple, not marble hard and cold, met Benjamin’s lips.

The vampire kisses like a human.

Benjamin’s first thought struck him as absurd, and then he couldn’t think at all. Lips that had begged him for water, for silence, for life, now demanded passion. Sparks of white and deep mauve obscured the subterranean world around him, focusing his attention on the flash-bang of his arousal. As before, contact with the vampire blew him apart from the inside. Adrenaline, fear, animal instinct, all combined to light his nerves with an awareness he’d only experienced when fighting the heinous creatures. In short, he felt alive.

Lungs burning, Benjamin gasped when Tzadkiel let him up for air, then pulled his nemesis in for more. Drunk with lust, he barely registered voices in the tunnel, or the polite cough and tap on his shoulder. Taste. He needed to taste. Plunging his tongue into a rough and tumble battle with Tzadkiel’s, he tasted his own blood on the vampire’s tongue. Tzadkiel growled and clamped his hand more insistently on Benjamin’s nape, forcing him to open his mouth until every spare inch of his world was filled with a different kind of mayhem. Tinged with smoke and salt and a warm earthy essence, Tzadkiel tasted of nightmares laced with forbidden desire. A one-hit addict, Benjamin couldn’t get enough of the resulting rush.

The cough and tap came again, more insistent this time. Benjamin shrugged it off, refusing to rouse from this wonderful dream, and attempted to fall back to sleep—to fall back into to Tzadkiel’s embrace.

About the author:

Tibby Armstrong has been a romance reader since the age of eleven, when she snuck a very bad historical from her aunt’s shelves. In her late twenties, she fell in love with paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Now she writes LGBT contemporary and paranormal stories with strong relationship threads and a healthy helping of steam.
Website: http://www.tibbyarmstrong.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tibby-Armstrong-1609473992626766/?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tibbyarmstrong

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tibbyarmstrong/

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/bJv_lD

 

Contest:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Haven – Rebekah Weatherspoon – 3 stars

May 17, 2017 NetGalley 1

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

Haven – Rebekah Weatherspoon – 3 starsHaven on April 25, 2017
Pages: 228
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

The first in a new series from award-winning author Rebekah Weatherspoon...

A week-long getaway...
City girl Claudia Cade's carefree life is plunged into chaos when a camping trip with her brother in the national forests of Northern California turns into a deadly dash for her survival.

A solitary world turned upside down...
Nature photographer Shepard Olsen has resigned himself to a quiet existence, with only his dog by his side, until a woman in need of his protection shows up on his doorstep and throws his universe into disarray.

Two lives linked by tragedy...
Claudia is desperate to heal from her traumatic loss, but can’t stop thinking about her run-in with evil….or the grizzled mountain man whose quick thinking and good aim saved her life. When she shows up on Shep's doorstep again, she finds she isn't the only one who can't move on.

… saved by bliss.
The two begin an intense, passionate relationship of Dominance and submission, pleasure and pain, but with dark memories haunting them and decisions about the future rapidly approaching, Claudia can’t help but wonder...how long can they be each other's haven?

*** WARNING: This book contains a sexual relationship between a fashionista and a cranky mountain man who are dealing with physical and emotional trauma. And a very big, cuddly dog.***

I admittedly am running late on finishing this title but I am glad that I finally had a chance to finish it.  The challenge is I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped.  I struggled a bit with the idea of their connection and while it didn’t completely pull me out of the story…  there was enough there to make me question things which led to this lower rating.  I will want to read more by Rebekah as this is my first from her but I didn’t completely love this one.

I did absolutely ADORE our gruff, to the point hero.  Shepard had me thinking all sorts of naughty thoughts and I’d gladly submit to a Dom with his kind of treatment.  He’s got his own demons but he didn’t hide them.  He’s open in so many ways but he likes his privacy and being where he is.  I wish I could say that I was that centered but he found his home even after the mess with his parents.  I also wanted to slap his ex because no one deserves that kind of treatment.  If you can’t handle something from your partner, OWN THE FUCK UP TO IT… don’t blab their business everywhere like the issue is with them.  I know there are exceptions but for the issue in this case.  Yeah, not down with her behavior.

So… if I liked the hero so damn much why did I have an issue with the book?  Well, it has to do with the heroine… I liked her but… didn’t love her.  I got what she was dealing with, I really did.  I did…  I promise I did but she does something that I’m not as fond of.  She survived an attack that killed her brother, she has a ton of therapy that she needs but isn’t embracing (therapist didn’t mesh) and a host of other things but then she goes back to where everything happened and gets involved with Shepard who saved her.  Yeah, that’s messed up in a lot of respects..  but the thing that bothered me was she wasn’t honest with herself or him.  I get it… I do but that sort of hit me badly.  Yeah, probably because I adored Shep and wanted him to be treated the way he deserves but that’s just the way it hit me.  Now… you need to read the book to see what happens but I was actually quite happy with the ending.

I think that while I did have issues there is enough there that makes me want to keep reading more from Ms. Weatherspoon and that’s a great thing!  I love finding new authors to read and follow!

three-stars

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A Wee Bit of News…

May 15, 2017 Misc Info 3

I’m thankful for so many of you that still follow me and interact with me on Twitter.  This last couple of years have been crazy as I worked towards completing an Associate’s Degree and started a Bachelor’s program which left me little to no time for reading.  I still tried to keep up but honestly I didn’t have the time to spend on the site as I needed to but…

DUN DUN DUN

I am now to a point in my Bachelor’s program where I can start reading for fun again so you will see an increase in postings from me with some fun contests and other things planned but…  this isn’t all that I have up my sleeve now that I can breathe again…

  • New reviewers are coming on board…  I’ll be adding their bios to the page soon but drop me a line if you want to know more about them. 
    • Bobbie – She’s like me in some respects as she likes to read different books but we don’t always agree on things.  You’ve already seen some of her reviews and this will expand as she chooses to share her opinions on titles, genres, etc.  I’m so happy she decided to start sharing more and I look forward to seeing her thoughts on titles.
    • H – well, we haven’t decided on her handle yet but she will be sharing her thoughts on YA titles or anything else that catches her fancy.  I’ll definitely let  you know when she posts her first review on her.  I’m excited to get the opinions of the younger generation and give a broader range of genres for you guys to hear about.
    • Rockie – I think you’ll love her as much as I do.  I first met her at RT in Las Vegas where she fit in perfectly with Jo, Lynda and I.  She’s going to be reviewing Shadow Reaper soon with a paperback giveaway so look for that.  I look forward to her sharing what she’s reading and liking.
  • New things will be reviewed – I’ve finally found that I can stand audiobooks if I listen to them while at the office.  I was using music to drown out noise within my area but discovered that an audiobook works better plus I get to continue my love of stories while still being productive in the office.  I will be posting reviews of these titles as I complete them so keep an eye out for those.
  • Posts will be more regular in nature as I finally use the tools that I’ve learned about over the years.  I will post a formal schedule in the next few weeks but I’m hoping to have at least 3 reviews a week with perhaps a quick notes post that shares quick thoughts from all of us on Sundays.  This is just an idea at this point but I’d like to think that a group post with a couple of thoughts could prove to be interesting to you guys.  

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens as I get more time to be out here but I want to make sure this is clear…

While the site is mine… I run it and own it… any guests or other reviewers on the site are sharing their opinions in their own words.  I will only modify posts to more closely match the basic formatting but will not change the words/opinions of the others.  If they don’t like it, they don’t like it.  The point to this site is to share our opinions of the works and my hope is that by seeing the varied opinions we help you discover new authors or titles.  None of the reviews on this site are targeted at the author or other personal attacks but only on the book.  I want everyone to feel that their opinion is respected and if I edited the reviews for content then I would be doing them a disservice and to be honest… negate what I wanted this site to be.  I love reading and enjoy sharing what I find with others.

Now…  is there anything you’d like to see more of out here?  I want to hear from you what you’d like to see.

 

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Cover Reveal – Illegal Contact – Santino Hassel

April 27, 2017 Cover Reveal 1

So…  Tell me what you think about this cover????  *fanning self*  This one definitely needs to be acquired in print for my display shelf… IJS

ABOUT THE BOOK

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Santino Hassell was raised in Brooklyn by a strict Catholic family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school-cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

 

PRE-ORDER LINKS

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/552606/illegal-contact-by-santino-hassell/

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Kelli Ireland Double Release Week! Contest!

April 5, 2017 Excerpt, Harlequin 1

Saturday was the release day of TWO Kelli Ireland books: Conquering the Cowboy and The Immortal’s Unrequited Bride.

Conquering the Bride Kelli’s fourth cowboy romance set in New Mexico and features a rugged cowboy who handles climbing recertification, and Taylor, a search and rescue team lead who is struggling with a traumatic climbing mission gone wrong.

The Immortal’s Unrequited Bride is the third book in the Assassin’s Arcanum Series featuring sexy Irish Druid Assassins and the ladies that love them.

 

Trusting him is dangerous…

When a mission goes disastrously wrong, search-and-rescue team lead Taylor Williams is left with indescribable terror at the prospect of climbing. But she knows she has to face her fear to overcome it. Now she’s at a ranch in New Mexico, where her climbing recertification is in the hands of cowboy climber Quinn Monroe. Only this devilishly handsome rancher is about as friendly as a spur in the backside…

As they prepare for the climb, Taylor can’t ignore Quinn’s rugged physicality. The scorching heat between them helps distract Taylor from her fear, but her growing feelings make spending time with him dangerous. In the end, conquering her past may be a small feat compared to conquering this cowboy…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Excerpt:

Quinn rarely delved into the emotional side of his life. Hell, rarely was actually more like never. It was foreign territory, somewhere he didn’t go. So wandering around there with Taylor, a virtual stranger, left him out of sorts.

Struggling to find his balance, both in the situation and with the woman, he asked the first question that came to mind. “When did you start climbing?”

She blinked up at him, obviously caught off guard. “I, uh…” She shook her head and laughed, the sound slightly self-deprecating. “Last thing I thought you’d ask.”

“What would’ve been the first?”

A shadow passed over her face, piquing his curiosity, but the pallor that followed and settled over her cheeks told him he’d hit on something significant. “Maybe later.”

He shrugged with feigned nonchalance. “Tell me about your first climb, then.”

“I summited on my first climb, though it was admit- tedly an easy attempt. I was fifteen.” She picked at a loose thread on her shirt and didn’t look up when she elaborated on her answer. “It was a stupid thing, really. Our family vacation was to the West Coast, and I was hell-bent on doing something different. I used my allowance to hire a beginner’s guide.”

“Hefty allowance.”

She shrugged, dismissing the observation. “I saved.” Then she looked up and smiled, the move changing the entire disposition of her face. “One of the best investments I’ve ever made.”

Quinn had to clear his throat for his voice to come out as more than an approving grunt. I’ve gone Neanderthal. Great. “So, I take it you liked it?”

Taylor shook her head. “No. I didn’t like it. I loved it. For the first time in my life, I was free. My well-being, my very survival was in my hands and the hands of my belay partner. I was free from the confines of…” Her voice faded even as her gaze darted away again. “Sounds pretty pathetic, I’m sure.”

Quite the opposite, actually. He could relate, having found himself in the same spot, but at eleven years old, not fifteen. “The first time I set foot on a mountain with the sole intent to climb, I was lost to it. When I summited?” He grinned. “I swore I’d never come down. I was eleven. Turned out supper was a bigger impetus to a preteen boy than making a statement about his newfound love, and I ended up back home before dark.”

She snorted. “I feel like a bit of a voyeur, getting such a personal glimpse into your life.”

Quinn chuckled. “It’s not too personal. The entire town watched me grow up and more than half were compelled to provide running commentary. There’s never much pri- vacy in a town this small. Someone’s always got something to say about what you’re doing or how you’re doing it.”

“What’s it like, always having people around who know you or know what you’ve been up to?”

She appeared fascinated at the intimacies of living out here, so he went on to tell her more about his childhood and what ranch life was like, leaving out most of the hard- ships and sharing the high points.

Several anecdotes in, she held up her hand to stop him so she could catch the breath laughter had stolen. “Uncle. I’m calling uncle already. I can’t take any more.” Wiping her face, she shook her head. “It sounds wonderful.”

“It had its moments,” he admitted, surprising himself a little with the truth. Memories he’d dragged up and let roll around for fun caught him somewhere just behind his heart, and they shocked him. He’d never looked at his childhood like this, never recognized how much he’d been part of a home, not just on the ranch but in the county.

“Sounds like it was a great way to grow up.”

He nodded, unable to put into words everything that rolled around inside his head…and heart. Instead, he slapped on his hat and nodded at her, touching the brim as a matter of courtesy. “I’ve got to finish up chores. The horses and our mammoth donkey, Cob, will be up at the gate ready for their dinner.”

“Your donkey’s name is Cob?” She looked up at Quinn, brow furrowed. “Is it because he eats corn cobs?”

The laugh surprised even Quinn, rolling up from deep inside him, a sound he hadn’t issued since long before the funeral—an authentic, heartfelt, genuine laugh. Ignoring the way Taylor stared at him, he shook his head and rubbed his upper lip. “Cob got his name when he was born. C-o-b stands for cranky old bastard.”

“And he got the name when he was a baby?”

“Sometimes animals, and people, are born as old souls. He was one of them.” Quinn glanced at the door, the per- sonal nature of the conversation making him antsy. “I’ll need to get the stock fed and put up for the night before I can call it a day. My intent is to get started on your ground- work tomorrow after breakfast.”

Her eyes widened. “Okay.”

His internal barometer shifted, dropping into the Trou- ble’s Brewing range. Shifting so he was square in front of her, though several feet away, he asked, “You okay with that plan or is there a problem?”

“It’s fine,” she blurted out, the words all but tumbling over each other.

“Okay,” Quinn said. He needed to get out of here and gain some personal space and, with any luck, perspective. “I’ll see you in the morning, then. G’night.”

Flustered, Quinn pushed through the screen door, crossed the porch and took the cottage steps two at a time. His booted feet hit the pathway with a whump. He didn’t pause and definitely didn’t look back. Rounding the cor- ner of the house, he started across the field toward the barn and the last of his nightly chores. Not that bringing Taylor dinner had been a chore. He’d…enjoyed himself, had enjoyed chatting and talking about things he hadn’t thought of in years.

Ahead, in the near dark, a horse nickered and the don- key’s bray punctuated the greeting with a demand for food. After seeing to those animals he could hang up his hat and crawl into bed…where his mind would likely defy him and drag up Taylor’s image.

Like it did now.

As Quinn walked between the cottage and the barn, twi- light ceded to nightfall and shadows stretched and deep- ened, seemingly in time with each step that carried him farther away from the cottage.

From the surprising comfort he’d found.

From her.

 

A love that endures beyond death itself…

Ethan Kemp is a healer, not an assassin. But he’s found an unexpected home in the Irish stronghold that houses the Assassin’s Arcanum—men who will kill to protect their Druid brethren. Too bad there’s a ghost that won’t give him peace…

Centuries in the grave, Isibéal Cannavan has longed to be reunited with her beloved. Finally, he’s returned to her. She’d recognize Lachlan anywhere, even as an American warlock called Ethan. But her path to reuniting with him in the land of the living runs through hell itself, and she’ll have to take Ethan with her…

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Excerpt:

Ethan pressed the heels of his hands to his temples and slowly shook his head. “So much. All of it? At least most of it.” He slid down the wall at his back until he sat, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. “I need to talk to her to be sure, though.”

Rowan’s eyes narrowed. “Explain.”
“I’m not sure how.”
“Try.”
Cool air brushed over his forehead, and Ethan knew she hovered at his side. Listening.
Letting his head fall back, he gently thumped his skull on the stone wall. “I remember her, us, growing up together. I remember days playing by the loch, nights by the campfire telling scary stories. I remember Iz curling up next to me for protection. Gods, I ate that up.” He smiled. “She knew it, too. She always seemed to know. “There was my first magick and then hers, our skills growing in tandem. There was our first kiss,” he mur- mured, closing his eyes, “and the night I proposed to her, thinking to be romantic. Our wedding day…and night. “Four years we were married, Rowan. Before that? I called her my own for every day I knew her as Lachlan. Marriage only added another level of knowing. Of… intimacy.” Ethan couldn’t stop the pained, animalistic sound that escaped him.
“And then?” Rowan asked.
Grief and rage and loss warred within him, none more dominant than the other, until revenge settled into the mix. “She was taken from me,” Ethan said with cold quiet. “Her life was cut short by Sean, a man who thought it his right to give and take as he saw fit. My brother,” Ethan spat even as he clutched his shirt over his heart and pulled. “He… Gods, save me, I saw…”

“Enough,” Rowan said gently, not looking at him but, seemingly, at nothing.

Ethan knew better. He looked in the same direction, resented that he couldn’t see her, hear her, touch her. Pressing his hand flat over his chest, he bowed his head. “I can’t even kill him, seeing as he’s probably already dead.” He sighed. “I can’t remember.”

A heavy, male hand landed on his shoulder. “Sean Cannavan was cast out of the Arcanum and shunned by all Druids when I was a wee lad. It was never known why by any of the elders. There’s a chance your brother lives, but if he does? He’s lost everything, Ethan. Sean was infamously banished. The decree set down by the Elder’s Council said he was never to be acknowledged by a Druid again. He was sent into a life of absolute exile, Ethan. Not much you can do that’s worse than that.”

Ethan smiled, slow and sure. “You’ve never seen me lose my temper.”

“No one’s heard from him in centuries. As far as I know, he’s presumed dead. How do you intend to avenge someone who’s already dead?”

He glanced at Rowan. “Helps to have a friend who sees dead people.”

“I won’t be responsible for helping you strike out blindly. Only heartache comes from foolishness.”

Ethan shot to his feet and gripped Rowan by the bi- ceps, ignoring the man’s pointed look. “If she was yours? If you could set to rights your own loss? And if not that, at least deliver some semblance of justice that might, might, let you sleep at night?”

Rowan went rigid as he closed his eyes. “Aye, man. I’d do whatever was necessary.” Then he looked at Ethan. “Whatever was necessary.”

“Then you’ll understand that I need to borrow your power. I need to talk to her.”

The giant Druid’s eyebrows shot to his hairline at the same time a cold gust of air blew over Ethan.

He spun toward the disturbance. “Isibéal?”

The window to his right exploded outward and rained glass down the side of the keep, the merry, tinkling sound in direct opposition to the violent war of emotions that raged within him.

Isibéal was gone.

Ethan stared out into the night sky and rested one hand over his heart.

He would find a way to touch her, hold her, save her from an eternity of nothingness and avenge the wrong done her—them—if those were the last things he did.

And they very well might be.

About Kelli

Kelli Ireland spent more than a decade as a name on a door in corporate America. Unexpectedly liberated by Fate’s sense of humor, she chose to carpe the diem and pursue her passion for writing. Ever a fan of happily-ever-afters, she discovered she loved being the Puppet Master for the most unlikely couples. Seeing them through the best and worst of each other while helping them survive the joys and disasters of falling in love? Best. Thing. Ever.

You can find out more about Kelli by visiting her website at www.kelliireland.com.

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Master Professor – Tara Sue Me – 3.5 stars

April 4, 2017 NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

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

Master Professor – Tara Sue Me – 3.5 starsMaster Professor by Tara Sue Me
Published by Penguin on April 4th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, General, Contemporary Women
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-half-stars
four-half-flames

The New York Times bestselling author of the Submissive novels launches a new erotic romance series...

Students are begging to be held after class...

Andie Lincoln is madly in love with Terrence Knight—her childhood friend-turned-Hollywood’s newest golden boy. But he’s a Dominant and wants her trained as a submissive before he’ll consider a relationship with her. He enrolls her at the RACK Academy with strict instructions for her teachers: Do whatever you need to, but don’t take her virginity.

Fulton Matthews, the director of incoming students, is enthralled by Andie. Though he questioned her enrollment at first, watching her discover her submissive nature is hotter than his most intense fantasy. Under his control, her sexual awakening brings him to his knees.

Yet they can go only so far. Andie belongs to another, and Fulton is bound by a contract that strictly forbids relationships between teachers and students. But when Terrence comes to collect his prize, Fulton discovers it’s not easy to let Andie go. . .

I really wanted more from this story… more time with the characters, more details, more about the school, more about the secondary characters…  you get the point.  I am looking forward to more in this series but let’s chat about this first one.

We start this story by meeting Andie who is a virgin and is dating Terrence, a man she’s known forever but only recently made the transition to dating.  He’s a huge star but he has a secret he only recently shared with her…  he’s a Dom.  So we learn that he’s arranged for her to enter this school that teaches the BDSM community and, in particular, Doms/Subs.  She’s unsure but she knows she wants Terrence and as she researched the BDSM community she found that this kicked off a new level of fantasy she never imagined.  She’s a bit of a mystery as we start the story because you wonder why she was so willing to do this and not demand more from the man she supposedly loves.

When we meet Fulton Matthews we don’t get the best impression of him or how he treats others.  He’s very opinionated but he does own up to mistakes and the fact that he judged her before he really gave her a chance.  He’s got his own issues to work through as the story progresses but I did enjoy getting to know him.  I also enjoyed the fact that he was honorable even as he was hoping for things to go his way.  He’s drawn to her even as he knows he shouldn’t be but he really tries to not cross the line.  I also have to admit that he made a lot of valid points with her but mainly he did what was right which was to not interfere when Terrence comes to visit.  He did piss me off in the later stages of the book but that’s to be expected as we have to have the bad to make the good that much sweeter.

I had issues with this whole idea, no matter how presented, of “taking a break” or “granting a pass” in order for your lover to be trained to be perfect for you.  I just don’t think that this is an idea that sits well with me but I did enjoy the book.  I am definitely ready for more of this series and cannot wait until we get more of the others stories… yeah… I want to know more about the lover/best friend and what happened.

three-half-stars

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