Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Alpha Divided by Aileen Erin

Title: Alpha Divided
Series: Alpha Girl (#3)
Author: Aileen Erin
From: Netgalley
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 14th October 2014
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Now that she has accepted her wolf, Tessa can't wait to be bonded to Dastien, except that she has a bad feeling in her gut. When Lucianna, the head of the Coven that Tessa should be running, turns up and demands that Tessa be handed over, things quickly go south. On Coven lands for a month, cut off from Dastien and not allowed to connect with her wolf, Tessa finds herself fighting against dark magic and coven politics.

I'm still not quite over the shock of how much I love this series. It was one of those series that I knew I'd like but surprised me with just how much I ended up loving it. I never quite know what to expect when I pick up the next book, and this one was no different. I vaguely knew what would go down but the way that it happened was nothing like I could have imagined. I apologise I think I'm rambling!

The relationship between Tessa and Dastien is still more of a side plot. Well kind of. It is hard to explain really. The two of them are important to the way the story works, and they make each other better and stronger people (well wolves) but they don't rely on each other to solve the problems in front of them.

It was interesting to learn more about the Brujas in Alpha Divided, up until this point they'd taken more of a back seat as Tessa learnt about her wolf. This went hand in hand with learning more about Claudia and Raphael as well. (I also have a theory about Claudia and her future but I'm keeping quiet on exactly what it is because it could be completely wrong!)

There was more politics involved in this book too, both within the coven and within the wolf pack, and I have a feeling that this will only increase with the next book! I'm also really interested to read about Claudia's journey and learn more about her!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Protector for Hire by Tawna Fenske

Title: Protector for Hire
Series: Front and Center (#4)
Author: Tawna Fenske
From: Netgalley
Genre: Romance, Suspense
Release Date: 30th June 2015
Challenges: COYER Summer Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Graphic designer, Janelle Keebler has regretted her choice of husband since she discovered that he was actually a drug lord and witnessed him murdering someone in front of her. Now divorced and on the run, she finds herself hiding out with one of her brother-in-law's brothers, Schwartz. Schwartz has shut himself away in the Motana countryside with only his dog Sherman for company for 10 years because of what he experienced in Iraq. But now his family needs his help, and he finds himself taking in Janelle and protecting her...except that that's not all he wants to do to her. As time passes it becomes harder and harder to ignore the attraction pulsing between them and there's only one thing left to do; give in.

I had forgotten quite how much I love Tawna Fenske's writing. Like the other two books in this series that I've read, Marine for Hire and FiancĂ©e for Hire, Protector for Hire had me laughing from the random comments and the banter between the two lead characters. If you never thought that pop tarts could be sexy, then think again!

I loved the interactions between Janelle and Schwartz. There was attraction there and it was obvious, but especially in the earlier parts of the book the focus was more on getting to know each other, and that included inneuendos and banter. It was enjoyable and felt very different from most books easily seduced characters.

Because they were in the middle of nowhere, other characters in the book were sparse, and this made room for one of my favourites; Sherman the wolf-husky cross. I loved how both Schwartz and Janelle got comfort from his presence. I definitely felt that Sherman got his own personality, loveable and protective at the same time.

All the way through the book there was a sense of danger as posed by Janelle's ex, and towards the end of the book the suspense kicked up a notch. It left me with moments where I wanted to yell at the characters for being idiots I admit, but that just showed how much I cared about them!

This is a great series, I love the banter between the characters!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Point of No Return by Mandy M Roth

Title: Point of No Return
Series: Project Exorcism (#3)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Romance, Erotica, Sci-fi
Release Date: 18th May 2010
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Head of the Guards, Nina, takes nothing from noone. But she goes through painful cycles where the shifter in her craves her mate. But since Jordan Vasil arrived on the planet she hasn't been able to use any of the men around her, and now her body has gone into overdrive. Jordan has never felt the way he feels about Nina before, and even though the two of them try to deny the pull between them, and what everyone else is trying to tell them, fate doesn't always do what people want...

I love the way that Roth creates her worlds, and the Project Exorcism series was one that I was excited to get back to. The space elements of the series are more pronounced than in some of her other series and I like that. Though there is still focus on shifters and shifter culture.

The shifter culture was one completely different than any I've come across before, and even in the Project Exorcism world I hadn't really come across it before (because none of the previous characters I've read about have been born shifters) and I really liked it. Particularly the complexities caused by not being with a mate.

Nina and Jordan were both strong personalities, and that caused them to have a slightly more explosive chemistry than some other couples. For them it worked and there was definitely giving and taking on both sides. Their banter filled interactions definitely made for an enjoyable read!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Mighty Hunter by Michelle M Pillow

Title: The Mighty Hunter
Series: Lords of the Abyss (#1)
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 10th July 2010
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

When a Science expedition goes wrong and Bridget's boat is capsized, the last thing that she expects is that she will be saved by a Merman. Caderyn is a Merr, one of the curse men that lives in the land commonly referred to as Atlantis by legends. Now a Hunter for the Merr race, he hunts monsters haunting the seas and is required to save any woman that is left to drown. Bridget doesn't like how drawn she is to Caderyn, but sometimes all that is needed is time...

I loved having a heroine like Bridget. She was smart as well as feminine, but she wasn't willing to give up her career for anything. And when the idea of that threatened she works to find her way around it and that determination to make her own path was what made her such an enjoyable character to read.

I also liked how the Merr people were ill adjusted to modern information, to the point where they sometimes sounded awkward to people such as Bridget when they first arrived. It made for some funny interactions, and some strange shyness from Caderyn at some points.

The chemistry between Caderyn and Bridget was definitely there. I liked how the two of them weren't all that sure how to deal with it and that they didn't have ultimate confidence in the others feelings from early on, it added to the drama!

There was also a clear wider story arc which worked well. Though some things were dealt with within the story, others were left unclear and that has me intrigued for the rest of the story!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter (June TBR)

Title: A Hidden Fire
Series: Elemental Mysteries (#1)
Author: Elizabeth Hunter
From: Amazon
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Release Date: 18th October 2011
Challenges: June TBR Meme, COYER Summer Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 

Beatrice, known as B to her friends, never thought that working at a library would lead her to the ever so sexy, and ever so dead, Giovanni. Giovanni puts up a cold exterior, but he can't help but let Beatrice break through it. Faced with a mystery involving missing family memebers and mysteriously appearing letters, they are thrown into an adventure that could have severe consequences for the two of them...

Firstly, A Hidden Fire is the oldest unread book on my kindle, which was what I was aiming for with my TBR list, hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading, and I am almost ashamed to admit that this book has been sitting there for nearly three years waiting to be read. I'm an idiot, it was fantastic and any one else who one clicked really needs to get reading it!

Anyway, where to start with my review I mentioned on the COYER fb group, there were several moments where I found myself laughing aloud at this book (my favourite moment being when Beatrice asked Giovanni if he was Batman! Which then became a running joke throughout the entire book). I loved the comic moments but there was also more to it. 

The mysteries in the book were varied and not actually very easy to guess at, which I loved (I really like it when I can't work them out!) and most of the answers were given when Beatrice herself worked things out. Not only did the origin of the letters become a mystery, or what happened to Beatrice's family, but even Giovanni's identity was a bit of a mystery. 

I also liked that Beatrice reacted as could be expected in real life when things went very badly. Not necessarily in the scared way, but more of the retreating into herself way. She also didn't just forgive Giovanni for his bad decisions, she made him work for it. 

The vampires in A Hidden Fire were also REAL vampires. As in couldn't go out in the sun, some of them are really evil, kind. I liked the more dangerous edge to them rather than the more 'normal' modern take. I really want to read more from this series now, I can't believe I waited so long to read it! 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Confessions of a Virgin Sex Columnist by Kay Marie

Title: Confessions of a Virgin Sex Columnists
Series: Confessions (#1)
Author: Kay Marie
From: Netgalley
Genre: Romance, New Adult
Release Date: 18th May 2015
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 New Release Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Skye has a new job...she's the new sex columnist for the newspaper she was interning at. Except that she has a secret; she's a virgin sex columnist. With her old crush, and her best friend's brother, now living with her, and her dating life on the up, things start to get more complicated in Skye's life. From plotting sisters to disastrous dates, Skye lives it all while writing about her completely fictional love life...

Number one thing that I loved about Confessions of a Virgin Sex Columnist was that the ending, while somewhat predictable in nature, actually took me by surprise! It worked out the way I wanted with the guy I wanted it to, but there were several elements that made it 'messier' and I liked that, it made the story feel more like real life.

The book is written almost (but not quite in a diary style). For the most part it was like the inner monologue that would be going through any girl's head, right down to zoning out on what people were actually saying to her! There were several parts where I laughed out loud at things that were going through Skye's head, and the situations that she managed to get herself into!

The chemistry between Ollie and Skye was subtle. It was clear that there was something between them but the reader didn't actually find out what until about half way through the book, and that meant that it was kind of minor. As the book progressed there was definitely more of a focus on how Skye's feelings resurfaced.

I loved the friendship between Bridget (Ollie's sister) and Skye as well, it felt like they'd been friends for years and they had all the cute traditions that friends should have after that time! There was also the way that Skye interacted with the women at work, the rivalry with Blythe and the quasi-friendship with Rebecca. For me it really worked!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Seduction of the Phoenix by Michelle M Pillow

Title: Seduction of the Phoenix
Series: Zhang Dynasty (#1)
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Sci-fi, Romance
Release Date: 26th December 2011
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Prince Jin is all about tradition and upholding it, something which the Zhang dynasty has a lot of. At one such tradition, Jin finds himself announcing he has chosen his wife after being possessed by one of his ancestors. Francesca promised her late master that she would steal the Jade Phoenix from the Zhang family and get revenge for him. And she will do anything to get it, even if it means betraying her own heart when she realises that she may just be falling for the man that claimed her...

I read Temptation of the Butterfly (the second book in this series) first, which meant that I knew exactly how this book would turn out. That didn't prepare me at all for how it would happen! I was constantly taken by surprise by this book and I really enjoyed it. Reading them out of order also meant that I could see some interesting foreshadowing going on and it was also interesting to see Fen in a different light.

The chemistry between Jin and Francesca was strong, but thaat wasn't all there was to their relationship. There was the banter there for definite, and there was a slow build of trust. I think it worked well considering what was going on in the background.

Francesca was one of those heroines that wasn't afraid to own it. She had a job to do and she got on with it, even if that meant hurting herself. Of course those were also the moments I wanted to yell at her for being an idiot, but it all worked out anyway!

The culture in Seduction of the Phoenix is rich, though unlike book 2 there was more of the sci-fi elements interwoven. Whereas in Temptation of the Butterfly I could find myself getting lost in the Chinese style culture, in Seduction of the Phoenix I was marvelling at just how well Michelle M Pillow can blend two cultures and two styles.

Yet another good Michelle M Pillow read!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Twisted Reflections by Shay West

Title: Twisted Reflections
Series: The Adventures of Alexis Davenport (#2)
Author: Shay West
From: Netgalley
Genre: Sci-fi, Young Adult, Time Travel
Release Date: 24th July 2014
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Alexis Davenport is a Protector, someone who travels through time to protect it from things going wrong and changing the time line. With her life moving forward with driving, a new boyfriend and school, Alex just needs to sort out the travelling. But while in Egypt she finds the unexpected; a fellow traveller. Now having some of the answers for definite, Alex puts into practice what she knows and continues to thwart Drifter's plans.

Alex is younger than most of the heroines I like to read (I think I grew out of my YA phase for the most part) but there is something about this series that dragged me back almost straight away. Where the first book was good, this book was even better and it continued to tell the story both of Alex as herself and growing up, and the story of her travelling.

The historical settings are rich and well described, making it seem as if you're really there. The author very clearly did plenty of research when she wrote them and even included some historical figures without them seeming out of character. The observations of the other historical figures around Alex as well seem to fit. Whereas the author could quite easily have focused on the majesty of Pharoh Tutankhamun, she focused instead on his youth. For me it really worked.

I also liked how Alex's home life was going on. The author doesn't gloss over the issues facing 15/16 year olds, Alex has a boyfriend but admits she's not ready for sex despite the fact that everyone talks about it. To me that felt real. I also liked the fact that things weren't perfect with her boyfriend and it isn't implied that he is her 'forever'/

The same can be said of her relationships with her friends and her Mom. They weren't perfect and there were arguments, and that made Alex's life seem far more real.

I am defintiely looking forward to seeing more from this series. It has me intrigued for certain!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Princesses Don't Fight in Skirts by Aya Ling

Title: Princesses Don't Fight in Skirts
Series: The Princess Series (#2)
Author: Aya Ling
From: The Princess Series Box Set 
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Release Date: 19th October 2013
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Princess Arianna likes being a Princess. A traditional Princess that is rather than the current norm of warrior Princesses. But when her Aunt, Lady Mathilde, the first warrior maid, comes home to find her niece not wanting to even pick up a sword, she is sent off to the Riviera Academy for the Fighting Arts. While there Arianna discovers more about herself than she ever imagined, and she meets Prince James, the second son of the Rivieran King.

I was a little hesitant to pick up Princesses Don't Fight in Skirts after feeling a little disappointed in Princesses Don't Get Fat (which I did enjoy just not as much as I had expected) but I am so glad that I did. I loved Princesses Don't Fight in Skirts and was definitely more impressed by it than by the first book!

Part of the reason I liked Princesses Don't Fight in Skirts so much was Arianna. In so many books you have a heroine that wants to be able to fight the bad guys but can't, whereas Arianna doesn't actually want to. Yes at points she came across as vain and spoiled (but come she was 15 what do you expect!) but she grew as the book progressed.

In some ways this felt like a more appropriate story for a 15 year old than most. Arianna grew as a person, and discovered that she actually enjoyed parts of both traditional and warrior culture, and that came across well. She was also resourceful, and even when she was still being kind of spoilt she was looking into how she could do things herself.

The romance was a very small part of the story, and it didn't end in an over the top way. James and Arianna were friends, they worked well together and got on well together, which was pretty much all that there was to it. The main story was about Arianna, getting the Prince was only a very small part of that.

I enjoyed this book better than the first it must be said, though if you were put off by book 1 I would say give this one a go!

Monday, 22 June 2015

A King's Ransom by Reagan Hawk

Title: A King's Ransom
Series: Masters of Pleasure (#1)
Author: Reagan Hawk
From: Review Copy
Genre: Erotic Romance, Sci-fi, Paranormal
Release Date: 22nd April 2013
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

When King Kritan travels to Tamonius to find his long lost brother, he is captured and sold to be a slave in the gladiator rings. The last thing that he expects in the kingdom full of debauchery is to find himself attracted to the virginal Surina. Surina knows that she is somewhat naive, and for her kingdom she is an innocent, but there is a part of her that wants more, that wants a man. Surina's head guard, Rawlin, would love to be that man, but sometimes fate doesn't quite play in their favour...

Fair warning before I properly start my review, A King's Ransom has several erotic scenes, one of them being a threesome involving the two main characters, and several group sex scenes that don't (but are watched), though the latter are brief. The latter are also part of setting the scene which actually I found quite interesting.

So the scene setting sex. I know that sounds like a kind of strange concept, but Kritan was in a rival kingdom whose society basically was very lax, there was a lot of sex and a lot of corruption and some incidents of such were described. I did think that it was interestingi how those worked and felt very different from how the scenes between the two main characters worked out.

One thing that I really picked out as enjoying scene setting wise, was the fact that this world is set after space travel and now space travel is basically frowned upon. Technology has been banned and the people's lives have reverted somewhat. To some extent the society reminded me slightly of Ancient Roman times with some of the culture (though I'm not saying that all Ancient Romans had massive orgys, I'm more talking about the things like clothing, food and society structure).

The political aspects of the book were quite prominant and I liked that, though it did feel like they were only getting started and I would like to know more about where the tensions are going and why certain events were playing out like they were.

There was some insta-love going on, though the two main characters were fated mates (makes it more acceptable) and they both actually thought about it before spurting out that they loved the other person, which was a good change from just randomly saying it first!

I enjoyed A King's Ransom, I thought it worked well on several levels!