Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Maybe This Christmas (O'Neil Brothers #3) by Sarah Morgan

This winter, ex-skiing champion, reformed heartbreaker and single dad Tyler O'Neil has only one mission—making sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. The fact that his best friend, Brenna, is also temporarily moving into his chalet at the overbooked Snow Crystal resort is a delicious distraction he's simply going to have to ignore. Theirs is the one relationship he's never ruined, and he's not about to start now.

Ski pro Brenna Daniels knows all about the perils of unrequited love—she's been in love with Tyler for years. But living with him is absolute torture…how can she concentrate on being his friend when he's sleeping in the room next door? Then when Tyler kisses Brenna, suddenly the relationship she's always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it. Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?

Brenna and Tyler have been best friends since they were kids, both sharing a deep love of the outdoors and more specifically skiing. Brenna’s been in love with Tyler pretty much her whole life, but after being bullied in school repeated by another girl, Brenna’s self esteem was in the gutter. She didn’t tell anyone, especially Tyler about the bullying and this coupled with Tyler getting another girl pregnant ripped Brenna’s heart in two. She moved away to Europe for a time working as a ski instructor, but Tyler went pro and became a skiing/media sensation, racking up titles and women (according to the rumors) as fast as the media could print it. After a devastating accident a couple years ago ended Tyler’s skiing career, he and now Brenna have both, albeit separately, moved back to the family’s resort to help turn the financials from red to black. During this time, Tyler has also become a fulltime dad to his teenage daughter Jess after her mother made it clear she didn’t want her in her home anymore. More on that drama later. Brenna’s gotten used to shoving her feelings for Tyler aside, but when living arrangements are switched around, she finds herself around him pretty much 24/7 and it becomes impossible for them both to ignore what’s been building for years.

On the one hand you have Brenna who’s been in love with Tyler for as long as she can remember, but she doesn’t like confrontation or speaking her mind. The only place she comes alive is on the mountain and even though high school was years ago, the pain from that experience still cuts deep and she struggles everyday with being more assertive and not letting people walk all over her. For Tyler, he’s had a lot thrown at him over the past two years. He lost his skiing career and hasn’t dealt with that well at all. He’s become a fulltime dad and he also has feelings for Brenna but since he’s very anti-relationships, he ignores those feelings, committing instead to keeping Brenna strictly in the best friend zone. But when Brenna goes out on a date with another man, all bets are off and Tyler is forced to make a move.

Yup, Tyler makes his move…finally. The first half of the book was surprisingly a struggle to get through. It was very slow moving as it felt like things kept building and building, but not in a really exciting way, if that makes any sense. I was dying for them to just kiss already but be prepared to wait and wait for that to happen. And sure, their romance is sweet, even if it is crammed into the last part of the book. Maybe because they already had an established relationship, the progression of the romance was very quick once it happened. But I loved their easy friendship and I especially loved seeing Brenna change, speaking her mind and finally being tired of just letting other people talk at her. I liked the more assertive, aggressive Brenna we get as the story unfolds.

This story also focuses on Tyler’s daughter Jess, the issues and troubles she’s having both at school and at home. I enjoyed the relationship she has with Tyler and their mutual love of skiing that helps bring them closer together. There’s also a long awaited meeting between Jess, Tyler and the mother, that I’ve been waiting for. This woman ends up being truly as horrible as we’re led to believe and it’s her tie to Brenna that really puts her over the edge.

While I overall enjoyed this story, the second half much more than the first, I can’t say this is my favorite in the series. I had been so looking forward to Tyler and Brenna’s story, they’ve been getting built up since book 1 and I think it suffered a little for that. The beginning was slow and hard to really get into, but I did enjoy the second half once Brenna takes things into her own hands and turns Tyler’s world sideways. Maybe This Christmas might not have been quite what I was expecting, but it’s still a sweet romantic read in a series that I definitely recommend.


Rating: B-

Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Sarah Morgan: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Seventh Grave and No Body (Charley Davidson #7) by Darynda Jones

Twelve. Twelve of the deadliest beasts ever forged in the fires of hell have escaped onto our plane, and they want nothing more than to rip out the jugular of Charley Davidson and serve her lifeless, mangled body to Satan for dinner. So there’s that. But Charley has more on her plate than a mob of testy hellhounds. For one thing, her father has disappeared, and the more she retraces his last steps, the more she learns he was conducting an investigation of his own, one that has Charley questioning everything she’s ever known about him. Add to that an ex-BFF who is haunting her night and day, a rash of suicides that has authorities baffled, and a drop-dead sexy fiancĂ© who has attracted the attentions of a local celebrity, and Charley is not having the best week of her life.

A tad north of hell, a hop, skip, and a jump past the realm of eternity, is a little place called Earth, and Charley Davidson, grim reaper extraordinaire, is determined to do everything in her power to protect it.

We’re doomed.

*spoilers for previous books in the series*

I’ll start by saying that Seventh Grave and No Body brings us a pregnant Charley who’s off caffeine…yeah, take a minute to just imagine that. Ok, so crazy mood swings, overreactions and insanity ensue – I’d say it’s just another day in the life of Charley, but she’s got some big things to worry about. Not only that she’s carrying a baby who’s destined to be pretty important in the grand scheme of the world (no pressure), she’s dealing with The Twelve, hellhounds that some unknown person has summoned to attack her, Reyes and anyone getting in their way. She’s also working a couple of cases, the first finding out who abducted and killed young children, the ghosts of those kids are still haunting the area where their bodies were buried. The second case is related to missing people who are all leaving very similar suicide notes and then turning up dead shortly after the notes are found. This last case has a direct link to Reyes and puts Uncle Ubie in danger too. There’s also Charley’s concern over her missing father. Needless to say there’s a lot going on and not a lot of pages to get through it all.

Even with all the various storylines that are continuously ongoing throughout the book, I found this to actually be a bit boring. Maybe it was because the focus was so split really from the start, it was hard to get into any one plot. Or maybe it was because half of the storylines had no real direct impact on the overall series storyline. Or maybe it was because the main series storyline (Charley, Reyes, Satan, hell, etc.) didn’t feel like it progressed very much. Sure we get some new information regarding the Twelve, more information about Charley and demonstrations about her abilities that she’s still learning about herself. But I just didn’t feel like we really learned anything big or major and I hate saying this about any book because we’ll probably look back down the road and point out important revelations that aren’t very clear right now, but it read as a filler. We get some information, but not a lot of storyline progress.

One of my favorite parts of this series is Charley’s relationship with Reyes and even that was frustrating for me here. There were many moments from both Charley and Reyes that almost read as “woe as me” type scenes. I can’t put my finger on it, but they lacked the on page chemistry that I’ve come to love about them. There are new developments with their relationship, and hello, they’re having a baby, so that right there is a huge stress for them both to deal with. But I was a bit underwhelmed with their scenes and their interactions together in Seventh.

I can always count on a couple of constants that happen in each book in this series. One, Charley and her crazy thoughts, dialogue with other characters and just her general insanity, which makes me laugh. The other, is one tearful, sad event or scene. We get that here and I have to say, it was shocking since I didn’t see it coming. It happens at the end and should play a big role in the next book, and it left me thinking “noooooooo!” while still wanting to know more about what happened and why. Well played Darynda!

While Seventh Grave and No Body is a good read filled with fun Charley moments and as noted above, a really sad event, I can’t say it’s one of the stand out books in the series. There was something missing for me here, some spark, something that made this story a little special. But I love Charley and her crew (including young Amber who’s apparently not exactly normal) too much to let one book make me jump away from the series. I’m still invested, still interested and I still want to see how things are going to play out.


Rating: C+

Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Darynda Jones: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*Book provided by publisher for review* 

 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter #7) by Nalini Singh

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

“Nice place.” If you had a million or ten lying around.

“Want one?” said the vampire [Janvier] by her [Ash] side. “I can buy it, allow you to live rent free on the premises.”

“Yeah?” she said, playing along because she only had so much self-control when it came to Janvier, and she wasn’t about to use it to handle his flirting…didn’t want to shut that down. “On what condition?”

“I would have a key, of course. To make sure you are keeping my property in good repair.” His innocent look had probably spelled the downfall of at least a hundred virgins in his lifetime.

“Such a conscientious landlord. Would you fix the plumbing, too?”

“If you let me put my pipe in your sprocket.” Pure wickedness in his smile at her groan…


While the Hunter, Ashwini and her vampire hero Janvier hold the main focus of Archangel’s Shadows, a few other characters get a chance to take center stage. Elena and Raphael get some good page time and rightfully so, seeing as they’re still dealing with the fallout from the huge battle at the end of the last book. And possibly my new favorite character (sorry Bluebell), Naasir, gets some time on page and this guy…I love him.

While it’s not necessary to understand or enjoy this book, I would still recommend reading the novella Angels’ Pawn, featuring Ash and Janvier. It gives a good solid background to their relationship and allows an extra level of understanding as Archangel’s Shadows takes right off with their back and forth relationship/partnership and eventually romance. Ash and Janvier along with Naasir (no one really knows who or what this guy is) are a team of shadows that go in and do various missions without being seen or caught or known about. Ash and Janvier are teamed up to specifically work a case when first a dead dog is found and later women. What’s unusual is the state their bodies are in when found, it leads everyone to think that an Archangel Raphael previously destroyed is either regenerating at a pace no one believed to be possible, or their disease was spread to another and that angel is now causing havoc. Add in a new drug that’s hit the vampire scene that’s dangerous and deadly and Ash and Janvier have their hands full tracking down leads and following up on clues.

While all this is going on, Ash is also dealing with a personal issue, one that has her hesitating to give in to her growing feelings for Janvier all because she believes that she’ll have a much shorter life span, even shorter than that of the mortal one she’s facing. The females in her family have all suffered from this same ailment, to devastating levels and we see first-hand through one of her family members what Ash believes to be her future as well. It’s sad, heartbreaking and it takes some creative and positive thinking on Janvier’s part to not only convince Ash that he wants her, whether it’s for one day or a thousand years, but to help her see that there might be a solution for her, long term.

In addition to everything this couple is fighting and dealing with, their romance grows and I loved it. I loved seeing Janvier be all in with Ash, really since the moment he met her years ago. He knew she was the one and he had patience to wait for her to come around and get used to the fact that she was it for him. Ash wants desperately to be with Janvier but doesn’t trust what her future holds and doesn’t want to do anything that will hurt him. But of course there’s no denying what’s between them, and Nalini Singh gives us some memorable sexy scenes between the two, and yes it’s a slow build up, but also well worth the wait.

A strong supporting storyline goes to Elena and Raphael, who are both feeling their way after the epic battle that their area is still recovering from. We get more information about the group of beings known as the Legion as Elena makes it her personal mission to help them get comfortable with their new surroundings. We also get a surprise visit from Elena’s mother-in-law that has Elena, well, freaking out. I really loved the amount of page time they got and felt it was needed to help bridge the major events of the previous book to what was currently going on in the world.

Other usual supporting characters came on and off page as well. Dmitri, Bluebell, Honor to name a few all show up and make their presence known. But it was one unlikely character that had me both rolling with laughter and beyond curious to know more about him, Naasir. He’s a vampire…but something else too. No one really knows what or who this guy is, other than he’s deadly dangerous, he has a curiosity about the world and other people that’s both interesting and in some ways very black and white. He likes you or he considers you an enemy. That’s pretty much it. There’s something about this character that’s so incredibly intriguing, and even vulnerable in a weird way, especially at the end when he talks about wanting to find a mate:

“I’m old enough now, and I want someone to play with like you [Ash] play with Janvier and Raphael does with Elena. Even Dmitri plays with Honor.” This seemed to fascinate him. “The rules are secret in each game. I want to have secret rules with a woman who…” A long pause. “A woman who knows me, understands what I am, and who wants to have secret rules with me.”

GAH!! I mean seriously, how can you not love this weird, unique man who’s so sweet, but yet there’s no doubting that this guy can and will kill someone in the blink of an eye. He’s such an interesting, complex character and he immediately shot up to the top of the list of characters that I want a book for, now.

This world that Singh has created continues to fascinate and pull me in with every new story. I love getting to know the new leads of each book while still being able to see my favorite characters be included and find out what’s going on with everyone. Ash and Janvier have a relationship that’s sweet, tender and sexy and the way that combination plays out fit with the type of characters they are. This series continues to grow and get stronger with each book and I can’t wait for more.


Rating: A

Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Jove
Nalini Singh: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Burn For Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire…

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.
He [Rogan] was terrifying, and I wanted to run my hands down that chest and feel the hard ridges of his abs. I was some special kind of idiot.
Nevada lives in a world run by magic. Houston is divided into powerful magical families, or Houses, that either work together, or fight against each other all in the name of power. The Houses are almost like sub-cities within Houston all owning and running their own corporations, they have their own land and have control within their own territories. For the most part, at least initially, the Houses are playing nice, but Nevada and her investigative business are owned by House Montgomery and when she gets a call from Augustine Montgomery to meet him immediately, she knows nothing good is about to happen. Nevada isn’t living under any House but with her business having been mortgaged to House Montgomery to help pay for her father’s medical treatment, they call the shots. They want her to find and deliver a dangerous Prime, a powerful magic user, back to his family, unharmed. The Prime, Adam Pierce, is accused of starting a fire that killed a man and injured his family. Adam’s family, the powerful House Pierce, want him found and delivered back to them so that they themselves can do damage control. They’ve hired the Montgomery House Investigative team, who have farmed the work out to Nevada’s small family business. Why? Because she’s expendable and trying to bring in Adam is most certainly a death sentence. But Nevada doesn’t have a choice. It’s try to bring in Adam or lose not only their business but their home which is all rolled into one. What no one knows is that Nevada is a Truthseeker, a rare magical talent that allows Nevada to instantly know whether or not someone is lying to her. If any of the Houses or the government for that matter, ever found this out, her life as she knows it would be over. But her main concern is finding Adam and that’s made even more difficult when Conner “Mad” Rogan comes into the picture.

“So instead of talking to me, asking for my credentials, or doing any of those things a normal person would do, you decided to assault me and chain me in your basement?”

He [Rogan] shrugged, a slow, deliberate movement. “It seemed like the most expedient way to obtain the information. And let’s be honest, you weren’t exactly harmed. I even took you home.”

“You dumped me on my doorstep. According to my mother, I looked half dead.”

“Your mother exaggerates. A third dead at most.”

I started at him. Wow. Just wow.


Oh Mad Rogan, you delicious, crazy, powerful man. Events in Rogan’s past earned him the nickname Mad and it basically boils down to, this is a man no one wants to mess with. He’s powerful, he’s believed to be a little bit psychotic, he’s dark and mysterious and he wants to find Adam just as much as Nevada does, but for different reasons. When he finds out that Nevada is actually making contact with the elusive Adam, Rogan steps in via kidnapping Nevada, because that’s what any normal person would do, and Nevada’s life goes into a crazy tailspin. She finds herself reluctantly teamed up with Rogan in their search for Adam, only to discover that he’s part of an even bigger plan that could burn Houston completely to the ground.

There is so much about this story that I loved, I can’t even begin to cover it all. First, Nevada – she’s a twenty-something heroine with the stress of keeping her family’s business afloat. She works with her Grandma, mom, her two younger sisters and two younger cousins. She’s good at what she does, but it’s her magical talent that’s really a big question mark. It seems like she’s only just barley tapped into her potential and Rogan’s too smart to just let that go. I can’t wait to see what else develops for her in the future as far as her magic goes.


“Because my [Rogan] telekinetic magic doesn’t work on living things. I can throw something metal fast enough to slice an opponent to pieces. I can hurl a board at him, because cut wood is dead. I can choke him with his own clothes if they are loose enough. But I can’t simply throw a body.”

Oh. “So the best way to fight you is to strip naked and attack?”

His eyes flashed with a wicked light. “Yes. You should try it and see what happens.”

Well, I did walk right into that one.


For as much as I enjoyed Nevada, the story is told from her point of view (with the exception of the epilogue) and while she really holds her own, I was most drawn to Rogan. He’s not affiliated with his House, he’s a loner but so powerful, his reputation makes most normal people shake and run away as fast as they can. He used to getting what he wants, having things done his way and when Nevada comes into his life and doesn’t conform, he seems more intrigued than anything. There’s so much I enjoyed about Rogan, but I really liked seeing his dark humor and sarcasm come out. And when he makes it known he wants Nevada and she denies him…watch out. They share a kiss that Nevada will probably never forget but Rogan wants it all, he wants her and I can’t wait to see that play out.

Burn For Me sets up ongoing storylines, including the romance between Rogan and Nevada, so be prepared for that (the waiting, it’s already torturous!). A few threads get wrapped up here, but for the most part, we’re introduced to this world, we see which characters are connected and to who and how, how the Houses are aligned and how Nevada and Rogan fit into that world. While I love a good epilogue, the one at the end of Burn for Me just adds more questions and made me want the next installment even more.

Fans of the writing team of Ilona Andrews will love this book. It has the humor that I’ve come to love that they always deliver on, fantastic world building that’s engaging and easy to grasp as the story unfolds. Their characters always come to life on page and I can’t wait to see what adventures Nevada and Rogan find themselves in the middle of next.


Rating: A

Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Avon
Ilona Andrews: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: What a Wallflower Wants (Wallflower #3) by Maya Rodale

In the third novel in Maya Rodale's charming Wallflower series, London's Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position finds temptation in a devilishly handsome stranger . . .

Miss Prudence Merryweather Payton has a secret.

Everyone knows that she's the only graduate from her finishing school to remain unwed on her fourth season—but no one knows why. With her romantic illusions shattered after being compromised against her will, Prudence accepts a proposal even though her betrothed is not exactly a knight in shining armor. When he cowardly pushes her out of their stagecoach to divert a highwayman, she vows never to trust another man again.

John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is nobody's hero.

He's a blue-eyed charmer with a mysterious past and ambitious plans for his future—that do not include a wife. When he finds himself stranded at a country inn with a captivating young woman, a delicate dance of seduction ensues. He knows he should keep his distance. And he definitely shouldn't start falling in love with her.

When Prudence's dark past comes back to haunt her, John must protect her—even though he risks revealing his own secrets that could destroy his future.

Prudence is the last wallflower standing, her two best friends and fellow wallflowers are now married and Prue has left London and is desperate to find a husband before the very important Lady Penelope’s Ball, the finishing school Prue and her friends attended and no one in the history of the school has come to the ball unmarried. Prue doesn’t want to be the first, so she’s agreed to a marriage of convenience with a man whose heart seems to be set on another man. Prue’s just fine with that, she doesn’t want anything to do with actually being married other than in name only, but on their way back to London, they’re intercepted by a robber. Only Prue manages to escape and makes her way to a small inn where she meets John Roark.

John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is hiding some pretty big secrets about who he really is, but one look at Prue and he’s smitten. But Prue’s past is dark and tragic and she wants nothing to do with men, period. She was raped a few years ago during her first year out in society and through flashbacks we get the details of that horrible night when she needed help and no one came. This story is definitely darker than the previous two books in the series and for me, the flashbacks scenes were hard to read. I don’t like having those details on page, frankly I got the impact of what happened to Prue just fine through her current thoughts and actions; I didn’t need to know exactly what happened. So just be warned that the details are there. Roark understands fairly quickly what happened to Prue and he’s the perfect man for her. His own sister went through something similar and John helps Prue reclaim herself and gain some confidence. He’s there for her in whatever capacity she needs and he helps her move past that ugly night and realize that not every man is a monster and that John is someone she can trust with her heart and her body. Too bad he keeps a huge truth from her for too long.

Yes, I didn’t like that John lies to Prue for as long as he did, but he more than pays for it and he came across as so genuine on page, it didn’t bother me as much as it might have in another story perhaps. My heart went out the Prudence throughout the whole book. I have such a soft spot for that woman who is put in an awkward, potentially embarrassing position, which Roark’s lie puts Prue in. But she grows in strength throughout the whole story and she makes it through, with her best friends by her side. I really enjoyed her story and seeing her move beyond this horrible thing that happened to her and become stronger and more confident.

I enjoyed getting to know the three Wallflowers in this Maya Rodale trilogy and Prue’s story was a nice ending to wrap it all up. Even with the darker tone of story, I liked Prue very much, she captured my attention right away and I just wanted her to find her hero, a man she’s convinced doesn’t exist. John makes some mistakes sure, but he ended up being the perfectly, imperfect man for Prue. He pays for not coming clean to Prue sooner, but he makes up for it and is her ultimate hero. I loved getting to see their relationship play out. The Wallflowers are all fun, sweet woman and I’d recommend this series for all historical romance fans.


Rating: B

Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Avon
Maya Rodale: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*Book provided by publisher for review* 

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: He's So Fine (Lucky Harbor #11) by Jill Shalvis

For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It's the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she's rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she's ever laid hands on.

Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to "save" him. In fact, he'd like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He's just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole's heart, or will it be the end of Olivia's days in little Lucky Harbor?

He’s So Fine is a classic Lucky Harbor story with an alpha hero who’s fun and sexy and quirky heroine to match him.

Olivia is a former child star, but she changed her name and life (basically lying to everyone) about who she is to live in quiet Lucky Harbor. I have to say, I really disliked her lies from the start. I understood them, and was even ok with it but when she kept saying “I should really tell him [Cole] the truth” or “I need to come clean, he’ll hate me for lying” but then she never did, that’s what peeved me off. I get it, it’s drama and angst in the making, but when the heroine knows and says she should be doing this, but never does, letting things build and build it’s more frustrating than anything else. I think because you could see how the story was going to play out from the very beginning with regards to Olivia’s lies and then there ended up being no real surprises, it ended up reading a little bit boring and predictable.

Cole was a really easy guy to like. He’s a hard worker, just like his best friends who all own their own business, he was broken-hearted by a woman from his past who was in love with his best friend; the same best friend who died on an oil rig with Cole, Sam and Tanner. He’s kept all his feelings in about this for the two years since the accident and hasn’t been with a woman since. His friends knew it would take just the right woman to come along and she did in Olivia when she literally jumped on his head in the water. They have a fun, quirky first meeting that sets the tone for the story.

The romance between Olivia and Cole is sweet and sexy (what you'd expect from a Shalvis couple) and it’s made a bit funny by where Olivia lives and her super thin walls between her neighbors. It’s hard to keep anything private in her building, enough said.

I liked getting to know the two different sets of friends in the book. The men are all best friends who know each other so well and have each others backs while still ribbing each other about everything. The women, Becca, Olivia and Callie all living in the same building and being each other’s wing-women, something that Olivia’s never had, having grown up in the cutthroat entertainment industry. No one had her back and the people around her, her family included, just wanted something from her.

I’m still most intrigued by Tanner. He seems like an interesting guy dealing with a teenage son who’s a bit unruly. I’m looking forward to his story and finding out what dark secrets and pain he’s dealing with.

With any of the Lucky Harbor books, you know what you’re going to get with the Shalvis series, and I mean that in a good way. Fans of the series will enjoy this latest installment and the fun romance between Cole and Olivia. While Olivia’s lying got to me, I did overall like the story.


Rating: C+

Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Jill Shalvis: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: B&N | Kobo
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Darling Beast (Maiden Lane #7) by Elizabeth Hoyt

A MAN CONDEMNED . . .

Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown's soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he's quickly driven to distraction . . .

A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .

London's premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she's forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren't the only inhabitants—a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there's more to this man than meets the eye.

OUT OF ASH, DESIRE FLARES…

Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he's forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.

Apollo Greaves is a mute hero who’s struggling when we first see him on page. He first showed up in the series during the last book (Duke of Midnight) when his twin sister helped rescue him from Bedlam. After a horrible beating inside, he lost the use of his voice and has been hiding out, working on rebuilding a garden at a theater that burned down. He invested in the theater and wants to get it back in working order so he can start getting his money back. He was initially tossed into Bedlam four years ago for being accused of a triple murder, but he’s innocent and is trying to figure out how to prove that. Into him life walks the man who helped convict him in the first place, James Trevillion, he believes he arrested the wrong man now and is going to help prove Apollo’s innocence.

Living at the theater, a burned out hole really, is Lily. An actress who’s paycheck was cutoff when the theater burned down. She burned a few bridges along the way and now she, her son and Maude, Lily’s former nursemaid and now a third member of their family, are barely making ends meet. Lily is ghost writing another play for her brother to sell under his name and her deadline is fast approaching. When her son sees a “monster” in the garden their world is flipped when she meets Apollo.

I really enjoyed this story from the start. It was interesting getting to know Apollo when he was mute and had a hard time communicating, although that changes soon enough, but it was done in a way that made sense. I’m a sucker for seeing a man who hasn’t known love or compassion (his sister excluded) from another in so long. He connects with Lily and wants her to see the man he truly is and not as a monster or even as Viscount Kilbourne, the title that he can’t claim since he’s still a wanted man.

Truths eventually start coming out and Lily is convinced that a relationship between them won’t work. They’re from two different worlds and she has firsthand experience seeing her best friend go through a similar relationship and having it end in her death.

Apollo is so sweet, you can’t not fall for him. The story combines a complex relationship, great storytelling with a pace that kept me captivated from the start.

I did have to laugh through because I had a huge A-HA! moment when I realized who Apollo was. It’s been awhile since the last book, which his sister led and a few chapters in, it all came flooding back to me about who Apollo was and the role he played in his sister, Artemis’s story.

The story had some lighter moments that had me laughing out loud. I enjoy it so much when a story combines emotion, a little darkness, suspense and some laughs. I especially loved Apollo’s nickname for his brother in law which stems from the previous book. Also, Lily’s young son is adorable, he provided some of the lighter moments as well.

This is a recommended read and if you haven’t read this series yet, it’s one of my favorites and I look forward to each new installment. I’m especially anxious for the next book as we finally, FINALLY, get Lady Phoebe’s book. She’s a blind heroine and her hero and bodyguard, Trevillion, is a little grumpy, a little bit injured himself needing to walk with a cane, and up to this point is fighting his feelings for her. I can’t wait to see him brought to his knees.

Rating: B+

Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Elizabeth Hoyt: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 
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