Genre: Action & Adventure

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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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Magic Triumphs – Ilona Andrews 5 stars

August 28, 2018 Ace, Boookluvr Reads 2

Magic Triumphs – Ilona Andrews 5 starsMagic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Published by Penguin on August 28, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban, Romance, Paranormal, General, Action & Adventure
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can't-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She's made friends and enemies. She's found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate's doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

I don’t think I can possibly review Magic Triumphs without telling you a little bit about my journey with the Kate Daniels series as a whole.  You see, Stephanie aka @sac402 for those of you are on twitter, had recommended lots of books to me over the years.  Some I have immediately picked up and devoured while others she had to nag me repeatedly to get me to read.  Hilariously, those books/series that she has to fight me on generally end up being some of my favorites and land on my comfort reread list.

The first book in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Bites, was one of the books that Steph had to badger me about.  She had struggled getting through book one herself but swore the series was amazing after that and insisted that I read it.  I started and stopped Magic Bites five times before I finally finished it because it just wasn’t clicking for me.  I just couldn’t figure out why Steph and so many others that I knew loved the series.  That was until I started reading book two.  From that point on I couldn’t get enough.  I plowed through the rest of the series and couldn’t wait for the next installments to come out.   Additionally, I reread the entire series at least twice a year.  I finally understood the love that everyone had for this series.

Leading up to reading Magic Triumphs, I read the entire series again.  I am always blown away by all the plot points that are in each of the books that played a part in this final book.  I don’t know how they managed, I just imagine their walls are covered with post-it notes.  And while it is sad to that Magic Triumphs is the last chapter in the series, Kate and Curran enjoy their HEA after everything they have been through!

I loved the different sides of Kate that we got to see in this book.  Kate has always been such a badass and ready to take on whatever crisis comes her way, but seeing Kate as a mother brought a whole new element to her character.  I loved seeing her worried about everyday situations like all first time moms and having members of the pack give her grief about it was a hoot!

I was reminded again why there is no better man for Kate than Curran.  I can’t imagine anyone as unflappable as him especially with the chaos that comes with being connected to Kate.  Gods, warlords, dragons, no sweat.  He literally eats all of those challenges for breakfast.

I had pretty big expectations for what Kate and Curran’s child would be like but I didn’t do him justice.  I loved the fact he was just as innocent as you would expect a toddler to be while still being the perfect combination of Kate and Curran.  Can you imagine the trouble that a toddler who can shift into a lion, hold his warrior form and create blood claws is going to get into?  I have my fingers crossed that we will get to see more of him in adjacent series.  If Curran thought Kate drove him nuts forcing him to count to ten, just imagine what Conlan will do!

One thing that I always had trouble imagining with this series was how the Roland story arc would ever be resolved.  The power dynamic was too unbalanced between Kate and Roland for me to ever see her beating Roland in a battle and given that his life force was tied to hers, it isn’t like he could decide to let her win (not that I think he would).  I also couldn’t ever see Kate taking that final step to kill Roland even if it wouldn’t result in her own death.  Kate has struggled with her feelings for Roland sure, but she also loved him and I think she would have always hesitated to take that final step.  I should have known that Ilona would not disappoint. The way they resolved the Roland situation was absolutely perfect.   It allowed the conflict to be resolved while leaving the door open for story arcs in The Iron Covenant and Grey Wolf series.  I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll  leave it at that.

So as is only appropriate, thank you Steph for bring this series into my life and beating me over the head with it until I finally read it.

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Bone Driven – Hailey Edwards 5 stars

May 31, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, Uncategorized 1

Bone Driven – Hailey Edwards 5 starsBone Driven by Hailey Edwards
Series: Foundling #2
on May 31, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban, Epic, Romantic, Action & Adventure
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars
two-half-flames

'Edwards creates amazing fantasy worlds that the reader becomes completely engrossed in' (Goodreads)

The bayou is burning, the battle is just beginning - and Luce Boudreau is smack in the middle of no-man's land . . .

Life as a cop in Canton Town, Mississippi, is never dull - particularly when hiding deep within you is a demon bent on the apocalypse. Luce is doing her best to pretend her two worlds aren't crashing into each other, but what should be a routine arson investigation takes a shocking turn when Luce discovers a link between the suspects and her own dark secrets. There's no turning back, even though her search for the truth threatens to burn her old life down around her.

Lines are being drawn in a war Luce barely understands, and she just might be on the wrong side of them. Now she must embrace her powerful destiny, or the ones she loves most will pay the ultimate price.

Book Two in the powerfully addictive fantasy series The Foundling, perfect for fans of Ilona Andrews, Jenn Stark and Helen Harper

What readers are saying about Hailey Edwards:

'A fantasy of a five-star read!' Amazon reviewer

'This is a well written and entertaining story, full of humour and suspense, that I found to be a terrific read.''A fast-moving journey filled with the unexpected.' (RT Book Reviews)

'Hailey Edwards has exceeded all expectations.' (Goodreads)

'Well-plotted fantasy with intriguing characters, heart-pounding action, suspenseful intrigue and subtle romance. (RT Book Reviews)

'Edwards has this way of writing that makes you feel like the narrator is talking to you and that you're old friends.' (Goodreads)

'The world building is fresh . . . The characters are well-drawn and easy to root for. And the romance really hits the spot. '(Red Hot Books)

'One of the most interesting books i have read in a long time, it starts off pretty normal but when the shocks start coming they don't stop and Luce ends up feeling from one revelation after another.' Amazon reviewer

'One aspect of her writing I enjoy is her ability to take the mundane and with a few changes, turn it into something unique and unexpected. She builds dynamic character bases, using common mythology but takes it one step further using previously unseen species or imbibing currently known species with skills and know how that offers readers something new in the paranormal world.' (Smexybooks.com)

As you can see from my rating, I absolutely loved Bone Driven.  It picks up about a week after Bayou Born and we find Luce trying to put pieces of her life back together after beating off War.   Unfortunately Luce finds it’s impossible to go back to the simple small town life she craves.  Not only is War still out there, but there are new Charun  everywhere she turned and even people she loves aren’t immune to the evil that seems intent on awakening Conquest.

My heart broke for Luce in this book.  Not only do the losses continue to pile up around her, but it also seems that everyone wants a piece of her.  While Cole, Tom, Miller and Santiago want to protect and help her, they also need certain things from her that Luce doesn’t entirely understand or isn’t ready to give them.  Wu and Kapoor are both playing a long game that we don’t yet understand but it can’t be good for her or the coterie.  Maggie still loves her but also can’t yet forgive her entirely for the choice that Luce made.  Her attempts to straddle both her existing and new worlds strains her friendship with Rixton to the breaking point and there is nothing she can say to fix it when deceiving him means keeping his family safe.

Luce’s family is targeted again in the battle to bring forth Conquest.  How much more pressure will she be able to take before the guilt and pressure push her permanently into the cold space that will bury her humanity once and for all?

While I didn’t have this issue,  a number of reviewers for Bayou Born had indicated that they struggled with the pacing.  Let me assure you, you will not have any pacing issues with Bone Driven.  The non-stop action and emotion had me glued to my kindle, I even snuck it out during a graduation ceremony.

five-stars

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Bayou Born – Hailey Edwards 4 stars

May 30, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Read in 2017, Uncategorized 1

Bayou Born – Hailey Edwards 4 starsBayou Born by Hailey Edwards
Series: Foundling #1
on October 17th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars
two-flames

"Edwards [creates] amazing fantasy worlds that the reader becomes completely engrossed in." GoodreadsHer beginning may be our end . . .

Deep in the humid Mississippi bayou, a half-wild child is dragged from the murky waters. She has no memories, no family and is covered in mysterious markings. Adopted by the policeman who rescued her, Luce Boudreau follows him onto the force, determined to prove herself in the eyes of those who are still suspicious.However, there's more of a battle ahead than Luce could possibly imagine. She may be an orphan without a past, but no one - including Luce herself - could ever be prepared for the truth of her dark, powerful destiny . .

"Well-plotted fantasy continues to engage the reader with its intriguing characters, heart-pounding action, suspenseful intrigue and subtle romance." RT Book Reviews

"The world building is fresh ... The characters are well-drawn and easy to root for. And the romance really hits the spot." Red Hot Books

I love all things PNR and UF, and I often have trouble identifying the line between the two genres when a series contains romantic elements, especially when the UF story results in a HEA.  While it’s too early in the Foundling series to know whether I will get that HEA, I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed.

Bayou Born is an exciting new entry into the UF genre.  I haven’t been as excited about a UF series since I was first introduced to the Mercy Thompson series.  Bayou Born presents reader with a world and magical characters unlike anything else I have ever read.  There are no shifters or vampires here, not that there is anything wrong with either of those.   You would pry my shifter books out of my cold dead hands, but it was nice to read something so unique.  I won’t give any spoilers here, as the discovery of exactly what Luce and the men from White House Security are is an integral part of the story.  My only complaint is that we find out so late in book 1 that I felt like I just had a grasp on the world we were being presented with when the book ended which resulted in months of pining for book 2.

 

Stay tuned for my review of Bone Driven.

four-stars

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Wild Hunger – Suzanne Wright 2.5 stars

May 29, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Read in 2018, Uncategorized 1

Wild Hunger – Suzanne Wright 2.5 starsWild Hunger by Suzanne Wright
Series: Phoenix Pack #7
Published by Montlake Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, General, Paranormal, Romance, Shifters
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
two-half-stars
three-half-flames

When half–wolf shifter Frankie Newman receives an e-mail from a family member she didn’t know existed, a secret is revealed: as a child, Frankie witnessed her father killing her mother…and then himself. Frankie was torn from her pack by her mother’s human relatives, and the trauma was erased from her memory. Realizing that she’s been lied to her entire life, she’s never felt more alone. Until she catches the scent of an old friend—warmly familiar and intoxicating.

Trick Hardy, enforcer of the Phoenix Pack, can sense the rush of mutual attraction when he sees Frankie again. He knows immediately that she’s his true mate. But he also knows that, given her fragile state, he needs to tread with care—no matter how fierce his surging desires.

As aroused as Frankie is by Trick’s darkly dominant air and simmering desire, her priority right now is her past—not her future, no matter how tempting. But as more secrets emerge and Frankie’s life is threatened, Trick must do everything he can to keep her close and safe. After all, it’s their destiny.

Like lots of PNR fans, I am a fan of Suzanne Wright’s shifter series.  They are always follow the predictable format that makes them the cracky goodness I enjoy.  Wild Hunger delivered on all of the items readers have come to expect:

  • Fated mates – check
  • Super possessive alpha heroes – check
  • Snarky humor among pack mates, often at the expense of Greta who rightfully deserves it – check
  • Some flavor of bad guy or guys that ultimately threaten the heroine and/or the pack in general but who are ultimately defeated – check
  • Over the top sexual references and the notion of saving your ass for your mate – check

The story had all the elements that I look for in Wright’s books and would have gotten a higher ranking from me if it weren’t for one major problem.

You see, in Wild Hunger we are reminded multiple times that the hero of this story, Trick, has had a past that included sleeping with both men women.  Rock on, bring on the bisexual heroes you say and I agree.  Unfortunately rather than either opting not to specifically state that Trick is bisexual because the label is needed when we know his history or stating that Trick is bisexual, the story seems to make a point to make a statement that Trick isn’t gay.  Below are a couple of examples of this:

  • When a man who Trick has hooked up with in the past attempts to make the heroine question whether she will really be able to give Trick what he needs, she tells him that Trick isn’t gay.  When he doesn’t believe her she says “I’m pretty sure he’s straighter than the pole you dance on every Saturday.”
  • When Frankie (the heroine) is talking to a female member of the pack about the exchange above, the female packmate says “Seeing you and Trick together will have made him face that Trick isn’t gay, wich means he also had to face that you’re able to give Trick something he can’t give him – not unless he’s interested in a sex change anyway.

I just don’t understand why the author opted to address Trick’s sexuality this way when the fact that pack mates have hooked up with each other is openly known and accepted.  Clearly men and women both do it for Trick, why is there any need to make it about being or not being gay?

I hope that we will see this topic handled more appropriately in the future because I would hate to need to stop reading a series that I have enjoyed for years.

two-half-stars

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Hot and Badgered – Shelly Laurenston – 5 stars

March 27, 2018 Kensington, NetGalley, Read in 2018, Sent, Steph 1

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

Hot and Badgered – Shelly Laurenston – 5 starsHot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston
Published by Kensington on March 27th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Shifters, Action & Adventure
Pages: 400
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.   Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up . . .

My reaction once I saw the title for this book and knew it was about HONEY BADGERS:

via GIPHY

This might be one of the ways I imagine our favorite honey badgers:

via GIPHY

But I am torn on how to review this because I loved it so much and don’t want to even partially spoil anything so…  it is LIST TIME!!!

Why do I love this book so much?  Well..

  • We get to see HONEY BADGERS…  I mean come on now who wouldn’t love it just for this alone.
  • A certain character I love gets their ass kicked and… also gets what’s coming to them from another source as well.  When a mama says “I hope you have a kid just like you”, pray this doesn’t happen.
  • Bo!!!!!  Yes Bo is back in all his OCD glory.
  • Kyle!!!!!  We gets lots of psycho Kyle and man oh man did I miss him.
  • The sisters are divine!
  • Lock makes a fun appearance.
  • A certain overly focused older genius makes an appearance.
  • I really hope that one of the sisters ends up with my favorite panda.
  • We get another species that I didn’t expect but should’ve cause he’s just priceless and I can’t wait to see more of him in future books.
  • Another bear shifter so you know what he’s especially good at *waggles eyebrows*
  • A love story that makes sense even as the world around them goes crazy they just work…

Now on to my warnings..

Read this ONLY with people around you that won’t get distracted by snort laughing as you hit some of the funniest parts.

Don’t read this while DRINKING ANYTHING…  Yes I do mean DRINKING ANYTHING…  You will spit take a few times if you do and there is a distinct possibility of laughing hard enough where it will come out your nose.

Be prepared to want MORE NOW as this book reminds you of why you love this series so much and so badly missed the world that Shelly has built for us.

So…. just go ahead..  buy it and prepare to not get anything else done until you’ve read it.  Also…  I might be a WEE bit excited that Shelly will be the keynote speaker at a RWA luncheon this summer.  I will try to contain my fangirling but…  yeah…  I WILL BE IN THE SAME ROOM AS SHELLY… *hyperventilates* I’m cool…  I’m cool…  I’ll be cool….

five-stars

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The Unyielding – Shelly Laurenston – 5 stars

March 28, 2017 Kensington, Read in 2017, Sent 1

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

The Unyielding – Shelly Laurenston – 5 starsThe Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston
Published by Kensington on March 28th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General, Fantasy, Action & Adventure
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars
five-flames

Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…

Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.

With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one…

Are you ready for more Crow craziness?  Are you sure?  Are you really, really sure?

Well, buckle up for some more fun with the ladies and men who are trying to keep the world safe from some really insane deities.

Erin is up to something…  ok..  so she’s always up to something but this time she’s REALLY up to something.  She’s caught by someone that she honestly can’t stand at a moment when she really did need help (soooooooooooooooo not liking admitting that) but who she gets is someone that she can’t easily manipulate or ignore.  I loved getting to know more about her and understanding where the personality traits that drive everyone else insane came from.  She’s not willing to admit what Stieg comes to mean to her but he knows and accepts her for who she is.  I love her smart mouth but also found that behind this is someone who cares deeply for those around her and is willing to do what it takes to keep people safe.  There are moments when you just want to strangle her but the moments are broken up by laughter as she even knows that she’s doing it on purpose.

Stieg was so much fun to watch.  He’s driven but the way he tries to tell her not to do something in the beginning made me put down the book for a bit to laugh.  He’s not what he seems either which is why their pairing makes so much sense.  His relationships with others including shifters made me smile but it was the damn goat that made me almost lose it.  You’ll love meeting her but also love the way that he struggles to come to terms with what Erin starts to mean to him.  I will admit there is a part of me that wanted a more overt claiming but honestly these two are perfect for one another.  The way that the relationship just is… not forced… just natural made me smile.

Now… when is the next one?  I really wanna see how this new threat plays out cause…  DAMN MAN.

Also, Shelly…  if you ever decide to make more totes…  yeah… I NEED ONE… also… Vida…  thanks again!!!  I won’t see you this year at RT but thank you for letting me continue to share the love of these stories.

five-stars

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Ashwin – Kit Rocha – 5 stars

March 7, 2017 Read in 2017, Self Published 1

Ashwin – Kit Rocha – 5 starsAshwin by Kit Rocha
Series: ,
Published by Kit Rocha on March 7th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Military, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure
Pages: 380
Source: the Author
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars
five-flames

The first book in the follow-up to Kit Rocha's bestselling BEYOND series...

Gideon's Riders, Book One

Lieutenant Ashwin Malhotra is a Makhai soldier—genetically engineered to be cold, ruthless. Unfeeling. His commanding officers consider him the perfect operative, and they’re right. Now, he has a simple mission: to infiltrate Gideon’s Riders, the infamous sect of holy warriors that protects the people of Sector One.

He’s never failed to execute an objective, but there’s one thing he didn’t anticipate—running into Dr. Kora Bellamy, the only woman to ever break through his icy exterior.

When Kora fled her life as a military doctor for the Makhai Project, all she wanted was peace—a quiet life where she could heal the sick and injured. The royal Rios family welcomed her like a sister, but she could never forget Ashwin. His sudden reappearance is a second chance—if she can manage to touch his heart.

When the simmering tension between them finally ignites, Kora doesn't realize she's playing with fire. Because she’s not just falling in love with a man who may not be able to love her back. Ashwin has too many secrets—and one of them could destroy her.

So… be honest…  how many of you have wanted this book since you first met Ashwin???

I mean come on!!!  Admit it… he’s lean, mean, scary as hell but damn damn damn does he read hot when  you meet him.  And let me tell you… it was worth every damn minute of waiting to get this book.  He’s hot.  He’s obsessed.  He’s only got eyes for Kora… and damn if she isn’t one lucky woman.

I quite enjoyed seeing this machine (or so he and his handlers believe) realize what it means to find family and a place where he belongs.  Kora plays a huge role in it but honestly Ashwin needed to finally find somewhere that he was looked on as human.  Are they still guarded with him initially?  Yes but there is still a sense of honor in the Riders that make this group a perfect place for him to break down the training and brainwashing to become more than anyone imagined.  Is he still lethal and scary?  Yes but there is now a sense of peace to him that was missing when you saw him before.  He’s amazing as he starts to feel things and accept them as the new normal.  His innocence when it comes to this is fascinating but his willingness to try in order to be what Kora needs says volumes.  He’s not perfect but what he is means more than the perfection that is expected of his genetics.  I loved watching him navigate parties and group settings where he was expected to just be… relaxed and having fun.  Ashwin made me proud as he is forced to realize that an apology… a sincere apology… can undo so many mistakes and give him what he needs to survive.

Kora is so damn strong that you instantly understand why she fascinated Ashwin beyond just the secrets he knows about her.  She is honestly worried about the fate of the engineered soldiers to the point that she gets in trouble with command as she tries to treat them with humanity.  Behind this strong exterior is a woman who cares deeply and mourns each loss as a failure on her shoulders even when she performs miracles for so many.  She’s finally starting to grasp Sector One as her home and the fact that they truly consider her family even as she mourns the man she believes is dead.  Her joy at Ashwin’s arrival to the Sector is tempered by her concern that this man will never believe himself to be capable of human interaction and love.  She reads him so well and can see that behind this mask is a man who truly wants to be free.  Their coming together is both hot as hell and tender as they both realize what it means to be a part of a whole.

We get to see more of the Riders and I must say that Ana/Deacon will be fun to read about but I am very intrigued by the views we get of Gideon.  He’s a hard read but underneath this seems to be a man who loves deeply while still being able to be ruthless to protect his people.  I also enjoyed seeing Ace and Cruz as protective dads but Cruz shines as he is one of the first to push Ashwin to realize what is happening to him.  There are other pushes but Cruz is the one who could hit him hardest in so many ways because of their shared history.

Now…  when’s the next one going to be ready… huh huh huh I mean…

five-stars

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Shift – Sidney Bristol – 3 stars

August 19, 2016 NetGalley, Read in 2016 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.

Shift – Sidney Bristol – 3 starsShift by Sidney Bristol
Published by Kensington on July 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Action & Adventure
Pages: 320
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Nothing shines like classic cars under the Miami heat. With engines revving hot and emotions running high, sparks are sure to fly . . .

Tori Chazov isn't exactly the girl next door. For one, if the neighbors found out she's an FBI asset and the daughter of a KGB defector, she'd have to grab her go bag and run. Then there's her day job: making magic happen under the hood of big beautiful muscle cars. She's more likely to be wearing engine grease than mascara, and most guys don't fantasize about their mechanics.

But then most girls don't fantasize about FBI tech geniuses, either, and Tori has it bad for Emery Martin. Emery has a past. She can see it in the way he keeps his body honed like a weapon, in the mysterious scars under his snap-button shirts. She can see it in the way his eyes follow her around the room, even though he never says a word.

He's going to have to start talking now, though. A vicious Russian hit squad is on the way to Miami to take Tori out for good. And without Emery's help, she might not make her last great escape . .

This wasn’t a perfect book but I did enjoy the main characters and find myself wanting to read the next one in the series.  I am going to have to chat with someone that I know that read and DNFd book one to see what that one holds but I would like to see what Gabriel has in store.  If you haven’t read book one I think you will be ok as I wasn’t completely aware of that being out (yeah I know I’m a mess).

Emery is basically a master hacker, information gatherer and overall super-agent even though he isn’t really an agent or maybe he is or …  yeah his exact ties to the FBI aren’t fully clear but he’s the assumed brainiac/geek/nerd but what he actually is well…  let’s just say I’d love to be in Tori’s shoes when his attention is fully focused on her.  He’s got his secrets (which I wanted to know more about dammit) and past which impacts his choices in life.  He’s convinced that Tori isn’t in to him but he’s been in to her for quite a while now and when circumstances push them together he takes advantage of them.  I liked his devotion to her and keeping her safe but the fact that he doesn’t try to fully cocoon her made me happy.  He’s also quite controlling in the sex scenes we get but it is a good kind of controlling even though I sort of wish we’d gotten more glimpses of this but the story arc kept them busy outside sexy times.  I look forward to seeing him a bit more in Gabriel’s story but know we probably won’t get much more of his backstory.

Tori was a fun character in a lot of ways.  She’s initially having conversations in her head with her dream version of Emery but admits that this is nothing compared to what she wants from real Emery when she finally spends time with him.  She’s had a crush on who she thought he was but the real him just completely does it for her.  She’s loyal to her twin sister, Roni, and her father but there’s a part of her who wonders if she’ll find someone that can accept who she is.  Her history was interesting as well so perhaps we’ll get more of this when/if Roni’s book comes out.  I liked how uncertain she was about being sexy for Emery but also enjoyed that she didn’t completely obsess over it.  She’s who she is and luckily for her he’s completely in to who she is so while she might want to have the more girly trappings the fact she doesn’t have to really does it for her.

Overall a good, fast read but I do wish we had a bit more time to completely know both of them.

three-stars

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Dirty For Me – Jackie Ashenden – 4.5 stars

August 8, 2016 Kensington, NetGalley, Read in 2016 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.

Dirty For Me – Jackie Ashenden – 4.5 starsDirty For Me by Jackie Ashenden
Published by Kensington on July 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica, General, Action & Adventure
Pages: 300
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Ezekiel "Zee" Chase has a complicated past. Born into a family whose wealth grew from the seedy world of big-time crime, he ran away as a teenager and made a home for himself on the streets of Detroit. By day, the mechanic works at a local garage. But by night, he throws down with the best of them in Detroit's gritty underground fighting scene. With all those muscles, he's never had trouble with women--until he meets one who challenges him to the greatest fight of his life. . .

Tamara Eliot is a hardworking corporate high-flyer who appreciates the finer things in life, from her expensive perfume to her designer handbags. More than anything, though, she likes to be in control--and when Zee explodes into her life, she feels anything but. He's the definition of a bad boy: brash, fiery, and of course, irresistibly hot. And there's a darkness about him that keeps her coming back for more. As Zee takes Tamara deeper into a world she never knew existed, she just might prove to be the one opponent he won't be able to dominate--at least not without some pleasurable convincing .

I am trying to figure out how to review this one without it becoming a fan girl letter to Jackie…

This book sets up what should be a very intense set of stories about a group of close friends who made a family out of not so great circumstances.  This first book is about Zee who is keeping a pretty big secret from his friends and is driven by a memory of what might have been.  He’s convinced that he’s only good for a no-strings fling but finds himself oddly attracted to a woman who he feels is too good for him. I liked seeing him realize who he really was, what he really wanted and even better…  that he wasn’t his father.

The woman who makes him wake up has spent the last few years being the perfect daughter.  She’s taking atonement to a whole new level by suppressing her entire personality, dreams and self in order to make up something she shouldn’t have to for parents who don’t deserve her.  She meets Zee when she accompanies a co-worker to a gym in a not so great side of town.  Sparks fly between them that are undeniable but Tamara is determined to make her parents proud by working hard, marrying the man they picked and, in general, not allowing herself to be anything other than a rich princess.  Zee is supposed to only be a fling that doesn’t mean anything during the last bit of freedom that she has.

What we get with the two of them is amazingly hot sex but a sense that these two can heal one another.  They can push each other to fully embrace who they are without shame, without judgement and without the burdens of the past.  They really will grab at you but …. I have a feeling as much as I enjoyed them….  The next two pairs will put their scorching story to shame with the small glimpses we saw in this one.  I cannot wait for the next book and look forward to seeing how the rest of the gang find their happy endings…  😉

four-half-stars

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