#BookReview #PNR #RH // Three Trials by Kristy Cunning

Three Trials
The Dark Side #2
by Kristy Cunning

I’m really not quite sure how or why, but this series is really working for me. It doesn’t have the greatest world building or the most complex of plots, but I adore Keyla/Paca’s feisty, sarcastic and adorably sweet nature. Her banter, random comments and crazy attitude utterly pleases me and she is definitely one of my favourite book heroines.


I enjoyed the second half of the book more though hindsight, following some expected and unexpected revelations, helps to explain how our intrepid quintet were able to complete the task in hell so easily. We finally (and in that we I am definitely including Paca) got our long anticipated steamy moments. Kai definitely ended up as my favourite following that rather steamy not so little tryst.


Thank you to my fellow Buddy Readers over in the DE group – can’t wait to read book #3 with you all!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

**Contains sex scenes**

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36839899-three-trials

Synopsis
So, I’ve checked off some life goals and added a few new ones to my list.

Goal #5: Get out of hell’s belly without letting my ungrateful charges die.
Goal #6: Get a new name that’s more badass.
Goal #7: Stop wasting my breath on lectures and start annoying the quad hell squad every time they annoy me. Fight fire with fire. Ha! Another hell pun.
Goal 8: Find out who the hell killed me.


I’ll add more. I don’t want to overwhelm myself before I even finish checking off my old goals. But seriously, I really do need a more badass name, considering how much I have to keep saving my damsels in distress. I probably shouldn’t call them damsels, since they’re a little murderous and all.

Maybe I should add seeing a hell-certified psychologist to my list of goals.

#BookReview #Fantasy // Dream of Dragons by Aja James

Dream of Dragons
Dragon Tails #1
by Aja James 

Overall I very much enjoyed this fantasy/PNR fusion, and despite initial concerns it does read as both a standalone and separate to the Pure/Dark Ones series. I did put this down for a few day, fairly early on, as I found the character of Erebus to be extremely irritating. I’m pleased to report that he did get less so as the story progressed, though that may equally have been because we saw less of him. He was an OTT camp mix of Julian Clary and John Inman’s character (Mr Humphries) from Are You Being Served?


Since I had only reached the 11% mark, I picked this back up and actually went on to enjoy it. Whilst it didn’t take itself too seriously, the author blended Arthurian and Welsh legends together, twisted them sideways and created quite a compelling story. It even, in part, explained why those tales are so blurred. It wasn’t the most complex of world building, but it very much suited the story, setting and characters, so I’ve no complaints there.



What didn’t work for me, hence temporarily setting it aside, was (a) it starting with a sex scene between two characters from a previous series and (b) Erebus. This is a spin off, in effect an entry point for new readers who have zero connection to Ere and Sorin, who care not one jot for them, so for us the sex scene felt clinical, a little crude and entirely unnecessary. It took far too long to meet and get to know the actual protagonists of this book, Rui and Wolfe – much longer than it’s taken me to mention them!



Rui left me cold at first, but that’s all part of her character arc and it didn’t take long for me to absolutely adore this little firecracker. She was a beguiling and utterly believable mix of kick-ass warrior and naïve kitten-y dragon. She’s definitely up there as a favourite heroine. Wolfe was so mean, moody and ruggedly gorgeous, I loved him from the first moment we met. Not only did I buy their developing relationship, I was fully invested in it – I may even have had a “must be hayfever” moment or two towards the end. Sigh. So good.



In summary I went from regretting requesting an arc of this (and the next one) to having found an author I want to read more of. If it hadn’t been for that initial “gah!” of the first few chapters I probably would have given this 5 stars. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Song of Dragons.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fantasy Romance

Contains sex scenes and very mild violence

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56338749-dream-of-dragons

Synopsis
Every lore of every clan, across time and space, dreamed of dragons. Did you ever wonder why?

Erebu and Sorin fought through countless lifetimes of trials and tribulations to find one another again. They even conquered death. But Ere’s rebirth requires a price: he must answer the Celestial Summons when it comes and faithfully complete each task the Jade Emperor sets before him.

On the bright side, he doesn’t have to perform miracles alone. Sorin will be right there with him. One the not so bright side, his Fate, the Fate of all dragon Kind, and by extension, the Universal Balance, depend on the successful execution of each quest. No pressure.

His first task is find and retrieve the Jewel of Dreams.
Location: Unknown. Time travel will be required.
Clues: Too few. But there may be a dragon-slayer, a king, a wizard, and a few mythical monsters along the way.
Accompaniments: His beloved Sorin (who is all he needs!) A humorless, anti-social female dragon (who he doesn’t need). Though her kickass fighting skills do come in handy in a pinch.
Timing: ASAP. Determined by an arbitrary Sandglass in the Jade Emperor’s possession.

The end of the world may be just around the corner. Along the way, enemies may become lovers, reluctant friendships may form, and lots of hot, desperate, this-may-be-the-last-time-we-have-sex sex will definitely be had.

And who knows, you may never want to wake up from this…

#BookReview #RomanticSuspense // Crow by A. Zavarelli

Crow
Boston Underworld #1

A. Zavarelli

Mackenzie “Mack” Wilder is searching for her BFF, the girl who helped her survive the horrors of being a teen in the care system. No one wants to know or help and all the clues point to a club run by Lachlan Crow, a mover and shaker in the Mackenna syndicate aka the Irish mafia. Throwing caution to the wind, because without Talia what’s the point anyway, Mack decides to step into the lion’s den. What she didn’t expect was to catch the eye of the pride male. Lachlan Crow doesn’t need the complication of the dark haired, blue eyed beauty, he’s already promised to another and his Russian associates want her “controlled”.


Does Mack feel like the average 22 year old? Not really, but then her backstory doesn’t paint her in that light either. So despite her usually feeling much older, I didn’t find her maturity, or her strength, out of the bounds of believability. Lachlan is probably an awful lot nicer than most genuine members of a criminal gang, however we wouldn’t fall in love with him if he was without some morals, compassion and integrity. On balance I did feel his character was plausible, and his utter obsession with Mack allowed me to forgive the rest!


The chemistry between this pair is scorching and this is one pretty hot read. It was easy to believe in the feelings that developed between Crow and Mack, particularly as the book is written first person from both perspectives. Being able to listen in on their thoughts, to feel their passion and the incredible attraction they share, had me sold on their feelings.


Unlike many mafia romances, this did feature the syndicate in a believable way. It wasn’t overly sanitised though many of the darker aspects were more briefly touched on, so this didn’t feel a particularly dark read. I was left with some questions, particularly around the Russian mafia and the betrayals, but if I remember correctly subsequent books run concurrently with this and more of the story is revealed with each new instalment.


I’m so glad I got the chance to re-read this. It did take a couple of chapters to really get into the story, but once I did it became a book I just did not want to put down.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mafia Romance

Age 18+, Contains adult content

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31309440-crow

Synopsis
An Irish mobster. A missing friend. Two loyalties, ripping me apart.

I had a plan. Get in, get my information, and get out. Easy, right?

That’s when Lachlan Crow noticed me. Problem was, he wasn’t a soldier. No, he was next in line for the throne of the Irish underworld. And he was determined to hate me from the outset. My sob story about needing a job? Yeah, he wasn’t buying that either.

Too bad for him, I won’t let anyone get in the way of my mission.

Who cares if we have some kind of crazy chemistry? He’s the worst kind of wrong- and I would never in a million years be with a guy like him.

Because they took her from me, and I’m going to make them pay.

#BookReview #PNR // Four Psychos by Kristy Cunning

Four Psychos
The Dark Side #1

Kristy Cunning

I’ve not read the author before but this was chosen as our group PNR buddy read – possibly in honour of her recent passing. I was impressed by the quality of characterisation, the intriguing plot and the snarky humour demonstrated by our heroine Keyla, who’s sole perspective it is written from. Once picked up this book somehow buried itself under my skin and I didn’t want to put it down.



It doesn’t have the greatest world building or the most complex of plots and whilst it talked a lot of sex it didn’t really have much action for a reverse harem book. Yet somehow I thoroughly enjoyed every single chapter, paragraph, line and word. The only thing stopping me from immediately jumping into book #2 ( Three Trials ) is that it’s scheduled to be buddy read in September! I’m hoping we see the four anti-heroes develop distinct characters, I found Gage to be instantly forgettable and at times Kai and Jude felt too similar. However with three further books there is plenty of time for that to still happen!



I found myself laughing so many times and I absolutely adored Keyla and Ezekiel. Jude and Kai have some serious work to do in earning both of our forgiveness, but I trust with all their various skills and talents they will easily manage that 😉. I’m hoping my views won’t change as I continue with the series but based on this first book it is definitely one I would recommend, particularly to fans of K.F. Breene’s PNR/Urban Fantasy work and also Tara West’s Eternally Yours series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Paranormal / Fantasy Romance

Age 16+ – Sexual situations, Reverse Harem, Dark humour, Language warning

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36550871-four-psychos


Synopsis
I’m not so different from most people. Like everyone else, I have life goals.

Goal #1: Become a real girl instead of this invisible ghost thing I currently am.
Goal #2: Convince the four men I’ve been haunting for the past five years to pick me to be their new toy after goal one is complete.
Goal #3: Figure out who/what I am and why I can’t remember anything past the five years I’ve been haunting this quad.
Goal #4: Eat popcorn.

See? Perfectly normal. Sort of. Gotta start small, after all. It’s not like anyone else is perfect either.

#BookReview #SpaceOpera #SFR // Andromeda’s Pirate by Debra Jess

Andromeda’s Pirate
Heroes of Andromeda #2
by Debra Jess

Thank you to Netgalley and Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op for providing an arc copy of this book.

Whilst I like romance in the books I read, first and foremost I want an engaging and action filled story, which I definitely got with Andromeda’s Pirate. The author’s characterisation was excellent with two well rounded complex individuals in Kelra and Darvik, along with a wide ranging and varied cast of supporting characters. The world building was also very pleasing, sufficiently complex and neatly woven into the story so as to avoid the dreaded info-dump. I loved the idea of how the “puppets” were utilised in this story and though that term often felt derogatory to my mind it clearly wasn’t within the universe setting.

Cleverly used foreshadowing allowed for a variety of possible outcomes, so whilst you know that the story will have a positive outcome and HEA the specific journey taken to get you there felt neither predictable or trite. This is a world that I would gladly read more of, I will definitely be exploring the Debra Jess’ previous work. Connecting with Kelra and Darvik was incredibly easy, they were immensely likeable individuals with motivations that made relating to them absolutely effortless.

The emotional aspects of the book would have benefited from being shown rather than told. I need to see how feelings are developing through the emotional, psychological AND physiological impact that results. Descriptions of stomach fluttering, heart pounding, blood rushing moments were sadly absent, which left me having to accept Kelra and Darvik’s feelings for one another as a fact, as opposed to being utterly convinced that they were meant to be. However, for me, this book is still far superior to so many SFR’s where the “alien/space” element could be removed and the story still work. This was very much a space opera story with a side or romance, and if that is your preference too then I highly recommend this book to you.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Science Fiction Romance

Contains some brief sex scene

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58469969-andromeda-s-pirate


Synopsis
Darvik Hart is Andromeda Galaxy’s most notorious pirate. Kelra Shade’s reputation for capturing pirates is nonpareil. So why would Kelra offer Darvik a treasure beyond imagination to bring her on board his ship?

After a lifetime of dedicated service to Mantic Corporation’s private navy, Kelra believes she’s earned the right to hunt for the alien that killed her parents. Manitac’s refusal, however, forces Kelra to turn to the only pirate who’s eluded her because his strategic skills are a perfect match with her own.

Darvik refuses to risk his crew’s freedom with another head-to-head battle with the sexy pirate hunter who’s haunted his dreams. Yet he cannot turn down Kelra’s challenge, or the treasure she offers, to help her get revenge on the creature who killed her family.

As they plunge headlong together on a reckless crusade, the lines between hunter and prey become blurred, and a passion ignites between the two of them that threatens to derail their mission as they set the nebula on fire.


If you like Lindsay Buroker, Michael Anderle, or Glynn Stewart, you’ll walk comfortably inside the pages of this galactic sci-fi romance meets space opera adventure.

#BookReview #PNR // Incubus Awakened by Kitty Thomas

Incubus Awakened
(Fated Mates #2)
Kitty Thomas, Zoe Winters  

What’s a girl to do when an incredibly sexy, gorgeous and irresistible incubus is trapped inside the house you’ve just bought? Well Anna fights to resist him and spends the next few weeks trying to find a way to free Luc from the spell holding him in place.


Incubus Awakened is a hot, fun and very charming read, one that surprised me with it’s hidden depths and strong emotions. Luc was a complex individual, one with a dark past and much to atone for. He was also incredibly suave, handsome and endearing with a tongue that proved to be wicked in more than one way!


Amelia’s emotions were all over the place but for me they felt very believable. How could she trust this demon who had the power to seduce her mind, body and soul? Of course she had concerns about whether her feelings were genuine or not. What wasn’t in doubt was how much I liked both main characters and, despite actually being pretty slow burn, how hot the chemistry was between them.


In order to survive Luc must feed from sexual energy on a regular basis, but feeding from one person too often can kill them. So Anna embarks on a series of (mis)adventures in her quest to release Luc whilst avoiding falling totally in love with him. Let’s just say she is more successful in some area’s than others! With a hugely engaging plot, good pace and plentiful twists and turns this book easily held my attention whilst totally entertaining me at the same time.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Paranormal Romance

Age 18+, contains adult sexual content

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58523082-incubus-awakened

Synopsis
All he’s asking for is her soul…

After buying the historic home she’s fantasized about since childhood, Anna Worthington discovers she isn’t alone. Luc, a dangerously seductive incubus, has been trapped by a curse for the last fifty years, and Anna is willing to do almost anything to get rid of her problem house guest.
All she has to do is resist him long enough to break the spell so they can go their separate ways. If she doesn’t, she could die. And that would be the best case scenario.

Note: This title was originally published by Zoe Winters (The same person as Kitty Thomas) as Save My Soul, Preternaturals Book 2.) All content from the original book remains the same. This book can be read as a standalone. No cliffhangers, each book has a full and complete HEA.

#BookReview #SFR #SpeculativeFiction // Wave Rider by Michelle Diener

Wave Rider
Verdant String #5

Michelle Diener

This book, by new-to-me author Michelle Diener, has definitely put her on my “favourites” list. SFR spans a wide spectrum and I have found myself frequently disappointed by books that have very few true speculative fiction aspects to them. Stories where the setting could easily be changed to any town or city on Earth and the narrative still work. Thankfully this is from the other end of the spectrum, proving to be an exciting, action-packed and fast paced story with plenty of elements to please any SFR fan. When I requested the book from Netgalley I wasn’t aware it was book #5 in a linked series, however the author wrote it in a way that allows it to be easily read as a standalone. Given how much I enjoyed this, it is very much my intention to read more of the author’s work.



Anja and Cal are both strong, resilient and relatable characters whom I very much enjoyed getting to know. One improvement for me would have been to have had a more comprehensive backstory for them. Whilst I knew their personalities and jobs there was no history given for either protagonist – I don’t even know if Anja had any family! Thankfully it didn’t stop me enjoying the story. The pair had amazing chemistry and whilst the romance aspect perhaps felt a little rushed, a touch underdeveloped, I was happy to forgo that part in return for the suspense and sci-fi aspects of the plot. I quickly found myself caught up and immersed in this world and just couldn’t put the book down.



The world building was solid, the author doesn’t overload and for a few aspects I had to read between the lines. However I got the impression that more information is provided in earlier books so I can’t find fault there. If I had read them in order I wouldn’t appreciate too much recapping each time, so for me it was the perfect balance. I was very much reminded of Carol Van Natta and Jess Anastasi by what is a must read for any SFR fan.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Science Fiction Romance

Age 14+, Contains some violence and a glossed over sex scene

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58544116-wave-rider


Synopsis
Isolated . . . Verdant String scientist, Anja Farucci, is frightened. Her calls for help from her remote coastal research station on the moon Fynian have been going unanswered, and strange things are happening with the leviathan pod she’s studying. Out of options, she sets out on the dangerous three-day journey to Rinc, Fynian’s only city.

Stranded . . . Cal is a wave rider, and if anyone understands leviathans, it’s him, but when Kada, a young leviathan, grabs his boat and strands him on the southern peninsula, Cal is at a loss to understand what is going on.

Thrown together . . . When Cal and Anja cross paths, they discover Anja’s communications have been deliberately sabotaged. Someone doesn’t want anyone coming or going from the southern peninsula. When the people involved start hurting leviathans, though, neither Cal nor Anja can let it go.

What they don’t know, as they get deeper and deeper into the mystery, is that the secret they discover in the cold waters of Fynian’s ocean will change them forever.

REVIEW – Historical Romance // Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare

Romancing the Duke
Castles Ever After #1
by Tessa Dare

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I found the characters to be likeable – if somewhat stereotypical of the genre – and the plot to be engaging. The story moved at a decent pace and had plenty of different strands that were woven together to build an interesting and textured tale.


With themes of acceptance, friendship and learning to trust, the author’s voice was incredibly pleasing and she conveyed emotions in a palpable manner. Both Ransom and Izzy had a solid backstory. one that explained all their foibles and character traits. In fact I found myself very impressed that there was no redundancy in the story, even little snippets of seemingly window dressing eventually prove to have some value later in the story.


This was the first e-book I had borrowed from a library and despite not being able to read on my kindle I quickly found myself thoroughly absorbed by this book. I ended up reading it in a day, I was caught hook, line and sinker by Ransom and Izzy’s story and enjoyed every moment of it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fantasy Romance

Age 15+, Contains some violence and glossed over sex scene

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18052985-romancing-the-duke

Synopsis
As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?


No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

#BookReview #Omegaverse #PNR // Forbidden by Liliana Carlisle

Forbidden
The Alpha Collectors #2
Liliana Carlisle
Photo by Ana Maria Moroz on Pexels.com

Amelia is a Beta suffering from a mysterious and debilitating disease. Jakob is the sexy alpha who, despite playing havoc with her libido, relives her symptoms. The trouble is Jakob is a Collector and his fight to eliminate the shadowy group who kidnap and sell omegas to the highest bidder puts Amelia at risk.


Forbidden is a high heat, fast paced and entertaining read. I found both characters likeable and was definitely invested in them finding their HEA with one another. The main protagonists were well crafted and had depth whilst a good range of secondary characters added colour to the story. The authors voice is smooth and very readable, her writing style very quickly drew me in and easily held my attention throughout. The chemistry between Jakob and Amelia is scorching hot and I definitely felt the passion and depth of feeling they had for one another.


The plot really unfolded in the second half of the story, with almost non-stop action. Whilst the pace was still good in the first half, personally I felt there was a prevalence of sex scenes that took away somewhat from the story. There were some missed opportunities for other interactions between the protagonists. For example in one of Jakob’s internal monologues he thinks –

“I crave our late-night talks and finding out more about who she is. And in turn, I open up to her, telling her about my past…..
….. I tell her everything and she accepts it all, willingly.”


Had we been party to one of these conversations – particularly one of the baring of souls and secrets – it would really have elevated this book to a very high standard.


Whilst the storyline touches on the topic of sexual slavery, it doesn’t travel very far down that path and their are no detailed scenes of abuse. However my tastes run quite dark so do be aware that my “tame” can be as much as others enjoy! In this case there are mentions of violence, kidnap and assault, though no sexual assault.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Science Fiction Romance


Age 18+, Contains adult themes


Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58239099-forbidden


Synopsis
I should tell him no…

This is wrong.
He’s an Alpha. I’m a Beta.
Our path only leads to heartache.
But his body, possessiveness, and passion fuel my obsession as we consume each other.
I’ve willingly thrown myself into the arms of a Collector, consequences be damned.
But we’re on borrowed time.
If I’m not careful, he’ll ruin me.
But maybe I want to be ruined.

Forbidden is the second standalone book in The Alpha Collectors, a M/F Alpha/Omega Romance series that features Knotting, Heats, and Ruts, with a guaranteed HEA.

#BookReview #ContemporaryRomance // Claiming Cleo by Claire Thompson

Claiming Cleo
(Master’s Club #2)
by Claire Thompson

Having met Cleo in At His Mercy I was very much looking forward to reading her story and I wasn’t left disappointed. Claiming Cleo can very much be read standalone, though I do recommend book #1 in the series too! Whilst this features a Master/slave type relationship it didn’t feature the level of TPE I’ve witnessed in some M/s stories. Cleo retained a level of autonomy and independence and we were repeatedly reminded of how she also held the power to stop everything should she need or want to.



The main theme of this second chance story was communication and Ms Thompson demonstrated good character growth in this respect for BOTH parties involved. Whilst there were no huge surprises or twists I felt the story didn’t need them, as the focus remained purely on this couple learning to trust and commit, and for Cleo to truly let go and submit.



The backstory of each main character gave credence to their actions and the journey they took during the story felt very believable. We are treated to some incredibly hot BDSM scenes, some of the sex scenes in the second half were more vanilla but this only strengthened the story for me, since you could see a life time relationship developing. We didn’t just get told this couple had a deep connection and great chemistry, we were shown it again and again in a very believable way. A particular strength, more noticeable in that second half, was how this explored the mindset and trust of an M/s relationship.



In short this is another well written, well thought through story of romance within a kink relationship.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

BDSM Romance

Age 18+, Contains adult situations

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58601611-claiming-cleo—masters-club-series—book-2

Synopsis
Cleo’s got a secret heartbreak, one she flew across the world to forget.

Now he’s found her, and he’s determined to claim her for his own…

Cleo Chapman serves as a dedicated slave at the pleasure of the Doms at New York’s exclusive Masters Club. But even moving a continent away from the Dom who so casually rejected her isn’t enough to mend her shattered heart.

Jack Hartford spent two years coming to grips with a tragedy that left him a young widower at loose ends. Finally ready to engage in life again, his memories of Cleo draw him back to her, only to find she’s gone. Yet, no matter how he tries, he can’t put the charming, sexy girl out of his mind.

When he tracks her down, Cleo’s cool reception cuts him to the quick. The submissive passion that once burned so brightly in her soul is now barely a flicker…at least for him. Challenged and intrigued, Master Jack refuses to let anything stand in his way. But can Cleo trust that he desires more than just her submission this time? Because she wants it all—heart, body and soul.

Claiming Cleo is the second book in the Masters Club Series. Though each novel can be read as a stand-alone, reading the series order will enhance your experience.

If you enjoy powerful alpha men who aren’t afraid to take what they want, but give so much in return to the women they love, then this series is for you.