Monday, March 13, 2017

Early Review of When the Marquess Falls (Hellions of Havisham, #3.5) by Lorraine Heath (Novella)


Title: When the Marquess Falls
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
File Size: 1332 KB
Print Length: 128 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse (March 14, 2017)
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
ASIN: B01C2NNX5Q
Author's Website: http://www.lorraineheath.com/
Notes:  I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
George William St. John and Linnie Connor first came across one another on the day of his father's funeral. He was twelve and she was six. On that day the two formed an unlikely friendship and have been best friends ever since. As he's a Marquess and she's the daughter of a Baker nothing other than friendship could ever be, and so they never breached that friendship.  Linnie always dreamed of one day attending one of the balls George's family had hosted and this year George has decided to make that dream come true. He's promised his mother he'd chose a bride in exchange for Linnie being allowed to attend. Her opinion of the women in attendance would be helpful, or so he's said. George has always fancied Linnie and as a child thought he'd one day marry her. Dare he defy what both his mother and the ton expect and give them something to talk about? After all, when the Marquess Falls, there's no telling what can happen...
This was a bittersweet romance. If you haven't read any of the previous books of the series, I recommend you at least read The Viscount and the Vixen first. While some may say this one could be read as a standalone, I don't recommend it.The romance is a bit unconventional and you'll like it more if you know the how this story came to be and by reading The Viscount and the Vixen you can do just that. Sorry for the vagueness, but I'm trying not to reveal any spoilers.

I found it very interesting that both George and his future son, Killian, have decidedly different views on marriage each being influenced by their own father's choices. I love finally seeing the love behind what others deemed in The Viscount and the Vixen as being madness. The story of Linnie and George was short and sweet without any big surprises, but I thoroughly enjoyed it none the less. It gave the reader a unique perspective of the Marquess of Marsden and made me more sympathetic to his actions in the previous novel. I still feel he was a bit underhanded, but I now understand where he was coming from.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. As I stated before, this was a bittersweet unconventional romance that tugged at my heartstrings. It had high points and lows which made for a very emotional read. I'm so glad the author decided to write it, and knew from the moment Ms. Heath announced she had this one in the works that I wanted to read it. I was not disappointed. While this is a Novella, Ms. Heath still managed to put a lot of heat into the story. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.This one was definitely worth reading.

Order of the Hellions of Havisham series:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Perfect for You (Sunshine Creek Vineyard #2) by Candis Terry


Title: Perfect for You
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sunshine Creek Vinyard (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 368 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 28, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062471848
ISBN-13: 978-0062471840
Author's Website: http://www.candisterry.com/
Notes:  I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating. Please note that as I read an ARC, any quotes listed are subject to change, they will need to be checked and verified against the final version.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Brooke Hastings has been Declan Kincade's administrative assistant for four years. During that time she's developed a massive crush on the handsome man, and has been trying to get him to look her way. Declan, however, is a work obsessed stick-in-the-mud that Brooke feels needs to be shaken up a little. Armed with her 'fearless' bracelet, she decides to create a situation that forces the two of them to take a long business trip by car. With the two of them in such close quarters for so long he's bound to take notice, right? If not she's got several other tricks up her sleeve. Declan doesn't stand a chance.
This was a very cute story, but I didn't warm up to Brooke for quite some time. Almost from the get-go Brooke manipulates things in a manner that put me on guard. We go in knowing hardly anything about her and it took me awhile to feel her intentions were noble, or at least as noble as they can be when you're attempting to seduce your boss. All the while she's tempting and testing the waters with Declan to see if the two would be a good match. One of the items on her bucket list is to marry the man of her dreams. She thinks he may be the one.

Declan was sort of clueless and a little miffed by Brooke's behavior. He was afraid to make a move, but desperately wanted to. He believes himself not to be relationship material and feels that starting something with Brooke can only lead to disaster. She'll have to prove him wrong and that won't be easy.

Overall I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. I found Brooke's shenanigans amusing and Declan's attempt to do the right thing charming. There are some twists and turns which shook thinks up a bit and made things interesting. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale this one gets a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. 

Order of the Sunshine Creek Vineyard series:

Monday, February 27, 2017

Into the Fire (Night Prince, #4) by Jeaniene Frost

Title: Into the Fire
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Series: Night Prince
Format: Hardcover; 320 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 28, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062465864
ISBN-13: 978-0062465863
Author's Website: http://jeanienefrost.com/
Notes:  I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating. Please note that as I read an ARC, any quotes listed are subject to change, they will need to be checked and verified against the final version.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Vlad and Leila have been together under a year and the flames of their love seem to grow stronger with every day. If they had it their way they'd live together in peace, but the world of vampires and sorcerers just doesn't seem to want to let them. Leila is the victim of a spell gone wrong. A spell intended to kill her instead bound her to Mircea by both flesh and blood. If he feels pain, she feels pain. If he is killed, she'll be killed. As Mircea is the one who hexed them both you'd think he could fix things, but he insists he can't. While you might think the eye for an eye type of standoff  would keep her safe, it doesn't. Someone has found out about the hex and has decided to use it to force Vlad's hand. Can they find a way to stop the spell without killing Leila or is Vlad doomed to become someone's puppet? One things for sure with these two nothing ever comes easy. They're constantly stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
This is the fourth book of the Night Prince series and while you might get away with reading this one as a standalone, I don't recommend it. There is so much history with this group that you will lose some of the magic of the series if you don't read its predecessors first. While Jeaniene Frost claims to have no vampiric powers of her own, she manages to keep her readers in thrall with each new book she writes. She breathes new life into the classic story of Dracula by adding a sexy new twist and a romance that will curl your toes and melt your heart.

Vlad is a hard man to love. He's got a coldness to him that turns many off. Seeing him with Leila, however, one quickly forgets all that until his mate is threatened. Then there's no doubt who he is and fear is a common side effect of those around him. The reason for this is not only his fierceness on the battlefield, but his ability to set things on fire with himself remaining unaffected.

Leila has not had an easy life. She is smart, strong, sassy, resourceful, loyal and tells it to you straight. She acquired special abilities years ago when she came in contact with an electric power line that should have killed her. Not only can she see a person's past and future, but if she comes in contact with an object she can also find where they are at present or will be in the future. She also has a much more "shocking" talent that she picked up that day. She emits electricity when touched. She's the equivalent of a human taser gun and has only recently learned how to control her power. Before she shocked anyone who came into contact with her. This made for a very lonely life until Vlad came along and swept her off her feet.  

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. There is plenty of madness, mayhem, and murder so strap your seat belt on because you're in for a bumpy ride. *smirk* In this book, the latter part of Vlad and Leila's 'for better or worse' marriage vow is getting a workout, and friendships and loyalties will be put to the test. Leila will learn more about her powers, and Ian and Mencheres both make an appearance. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.


Order of the Night Prince series:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Title: The Diabolic
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover; 416 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (November 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1481472674
ISBN-13: 978-1481472678
Author's Website: http://sjkincaid.com/
Notes: I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) at BEA (Book Expo America).


Diabolic - relating to or characteristic of the Devil.


'We looked like people, to be sure. We had the DNA of people, but we were something else: creatures fashioned to be utterly ruthless and totally loyal to a single individual. We would gladly kill for that person, and only for them. That’s why the elite imperial families eagerly snatched us up to serve as lifelong bodyguards for themselves and their children, and to be the bane of their enemies.'

(...)

'But lately, it seemed, Diabolics were doing their jobs far too well. In recent weeks, the Imperial Senate had begun debating the “Diabolic Menace.” Senators discussed Diabolics gone rogue, killing enemies of their masters over small slights, even murdering family members of the child they were assigned to protect to advance that child’s interests. They were proving more of a threat to some families than an asset.' So the Emperor banned Diabolics retroactively.


My name is Nemesis and the human I am bonded to is Sidonia 'Donia' Impyrean. 'As the sole heir of a Galactic Senator, Donia would be expected to take her father’s seat after he retired. That meant she had to cultivate political instinct now and learn to speak to others among the Grandiloquy, the Empire’s ruling class. Her social skills would fashion the future alliances of her family and ensure their continued influence.'

This is my story.
This was a very emotionally charged roller coaster of a ride book.While its premise is similar to that of other books, it was so well written and the story so compelling that I found myself being swept away in the current  of the  book. The situation Donia and Nemesis were put in was terribly unjust, but given what people knew of Diabolics equally understandable. In the case of Donia and Nemesis, Nemesis was not the only one who bonded. Donia thought of Nemesis as her best friend or perhaps even a sister. She and her family could not fathom killing Nemesis so they devised a plan to outwit the Emperor. Treasonous? Maybe, but the family already had issues with his rule and killing Nemesis would jeopardize the safety of Donia. So when the Emperor extends an invitation to Donia they see the ruse for what it is and decided to send Nemesis in her place. Nemesis, a creature whose only task is to protect it's human, will now have to interact with others and pretend to be Donia.

I loved seeing Nemesis grow as a person. Her struggle to harness her predatory nature in order to protect her human was fun to watch. Her realization that she was more than what the Emperor and scientists imagined her to be was also fun to see. As she gained confidence in herself and started trusting her own decisions, we finally got to see the real Nemesis and not the one society had molded her to be. It was like she went through her own personal metamorphosis and it was spectacular.

Originally this book was only going to be a standalone. I am so glad the author and publisher decided to expand it into a series. While Nemesis went towards the light, I could see one of her fellow Diabolics opting for the dark after the way they've been treated. Just imagine what damage a genetically altered super powerful individual could do,  It could make for some interesting stories. Plus, we've already seen some of these Diabolics be used by their owners for furthering their own power and status. What would happen if a mistreated  Diabolic realized they had a choice? This book was a game changer and I look forward to finding out where S. J. Kincaid's imagination will take us and this world next.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I loved it. While I wish there had been a little more world building and character development, the author thought this would be a one book deal and was trying to pack everything she could into one novel and you have to take that into consideration. I highly recommend this one and look forward to the next installment.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Daring to Fall (Hidden Falls #2) by T.J. Kline

Title: Daring to Fall (Hidden Falls)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hidden Falls (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 336 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse (February 21, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062651838
ISBN-13: 978-0062651839
Author's Website: http://tinaklinesmith.com/
Notes:  I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Emma Jordan recently inherited the animal sanctuary her father started many years ago. The dream was for them to run the place together, but while she was away learning more skills of the trade he unexpectedly passed. Now attempting to pick up the pieces and get the sanctuary back on track, it becomes clear someone is trying to sabotage her plans.

Ben McQuaid is a local firefighter who gets called to rescue a kitten stuck in a tree. When he arrives at the scene and gets a closer look, he quickly realizes it's no domestic animal--it's a young bobcat. Thinking the cat escaped from the animal sanctuary, he decides to drop it off on his way into the fire station. When he sees Emma, she captures his attention. There's just something about the fiery red head that he can't stop thinking about.
If I had to sum up this novel in three words they would be: steamy, sexy, and hot, hot, hot. Okay if you add them up it would be five, but I only used three words (the and doesn't count). lol This was a sweet romance with so much heat and attraction going on that it was a good thing one of the main characters was a firefighter. Plus, I enjoyed the mystery of who was sabotaging the sanctuary and why. I felt the book had a lovely combination of things going on without letting things get overly busy.

Ben and Emma have a lot more in common then one would imagine. Both have demanding and dangerous jobs, both have had relationships that suffered because of their chosen professions,both have had their hearts broken, and both have decided to go on a relationship hiatus. Can you guess how that ends? I love how these two are drawn to each other from the start and try to resist what they clearly can't--each other. Granted, they really didn't try all that hard which is what made the story so much fun. As things start going awry at the sanctuary, these two become closer and closer as circumstances require they trust one another.

Overall I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. The story was easy to fall into and kept me in its grasp from start to finish. It was full of steamy goodness, romance,  and suspense. I loved that this one took place at an animal sanctuary as it seemed so refreshingly different from the other novels out there. We have a Big Cat Rescue in Tampa and the sanctuary reminded me of it. I'm not sure I'd combine birds and cats in one sanctuary, but it sounded like a fun place to visit. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Hidden Falls series:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Escape Clause (Virgil Flowers #9) by John Sandford

Title: Escape Clause (A Virgil Flowers Novel)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Crime Fiction/Thriller
Series: A Virgil Flowers Novel (Book 9)
Format: Hardcover; 400 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1St Edition edition (October 18, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0399168915
ISBN-13: 978-0399168918
Author's Website: http://www.johnsandford.org/
Notes: I borrowed this one from the library.



“Somebody stole the Amur tigers from the zoo last night,” Duncan said. “Apparently shot them with a tranquilizer gun and hauled them out of there. Since it’s a state zoo, it’s our problem.”

“What? Tigers?” 

“Yeah. Somebody stole the tigers . . . two Amur tigers. Pride of the zoo. Listen, man, you’ve got to get up here,” Duncan said. “There’s gonna be a media shitstorm starting tonight on the evening news.” (...) “We’ve got to find them, and we have to be quick about it. I know that puts pressure on you, but we can only think of three reasons for somebody to steal them.” 

“Which are?” Duncan had pulled a plastic chair into the office from the outer room, and Virgil took it and sat down. 

“One, it’s an anti-zoo nut,” McCall said. “Those people are mostly talk, as unpleasant as they can be. Two, it could be somebody who deals in live exotic animals—there’s a lot of that down in Texas and owning tigers is more common than you’d think. There might be five thousand privately owned tigers in the U.S. And three, and this is the worst possibility, it’s somebody who wants to sell the tiger . . . parts . . . to be used in traditional Asian medicine. Almost all the parts are used in one form or another. That would involve killing the tigers, of course.”

With little to go on and more false leads than true Detective Virgil Flowers has his work cut out for him.
This is the ninth novel in the Virgil Flowers series. From what I can gather, this is a spin-off series to Sandford's Prey series. If you haven't read the previous books in the series, don't worry. While I might have missed out on some of the nuances of the relationships between characters, I didn't feel lost. In other words, the book didn't piggy back on any other of the books.

An escape clause is a clause in a contract that specifies the conditions under which one party can be freed from an obligation. While no contract exists between the criminals in this novel, the main thief has found another way to escape his obligation for sharing the small fortune he'll make off of selling the parts of the two stolen tigers and that's to kill his associates. From the beginning we know who stole the tigers and why and we anxiously await for Virgil to zero in on the thieves. As the bodies start piling up, Virgil gets closer and closer to putting the pieces of the puzzle together as he starts following the trail of breadcrumbs that lead to the murderer/thief. I'm not usually a fan of books which give the points of view both the villain and the hero, but this book was a little bit like watching a face paced chess match. Both opponents jockeying for position while strategizing their next move based on what the other did. I rather enjoyed it.

Meanwhile a secondary story revolving around Frankie's younger sister, Sparkle, strikes a little closer to home. In a case of mistaken identity Frankie is attacked when thugs decided to make their displeasure at Sparkle poking her nose where it's not wanted. Sparkle is doing research into the mistreatment of migrant workers and it appears someone is not happy.

Overall I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a fast paced novel with a lot going on to keep the reader's interest. There was plenty of murder, mischief, and mayhem to go around with a little bit of skinny dipping on the side.  A highly entertaining read with well rounded cast of characters.

Order of the Virgil Flowers series:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6) by Tana French

Title: The Trespasser: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Crime Fiction/Murder Mystery/Thriller
Series: Dublin Murder Squad
Format: Hardcover; 464 pages
Publisher: Viking; First Printing edition (October 4, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0670026336
ISBN-13: 978-0670026333
Author's Website: http://www.tanafrench.com/
Notes: I bought this one.



“The vic,” I say, tapping the photo of Aislinn with my marker. “Aislinn Murray, twenty-six, lived alone in Stoneybatter, worked as a receptionist at a firm selling bathroom supplies to businesses. No criminal record, no calls to us. Assaulted yesterday evening in her home: Cooper’s preliminary exam says she took a punch to the face and hit her head on the fireplace surround. Texts on her phone narrow down the time to between 7:13 and 8:09.” I move to Rory’s photo. “This guy here, Rory Fallon, he’s been seeing her for a couple of months. He was due at her house for dinner at eight o’clock.”At first it looked to be a classic case of boy beats girl. Aislinn Murray was getting ready for a date when something went terribly wrong. As detective Antoinette Conway and her partner, Stephen Moran, begin interviewing friends, neighbors, and the primary suspect, however, a different story slowly begins to emerge. With the media breathing down their neck for justice and pressure from their superiors to get the job done, Antoinette and Steve will have to chose between taking the easy way out or getting to the bottom of what really happened.

 If you want to kill someone, have enough respect for my time to make it someone, anyone, other than the most gobsmackingly obvious person in the world. 

Detective Antoinette Conway just got her wish.
This is the sixth book of the Dublin Murder Squad series. If you haven't read the previous books, that's just fine. Each book of the series is self contained, and you're lucky if you catch even a glimpse of one of the other main characters in the series.

I've read all of Ms. French's books, and this is the first one that didn't draw me in from the first chapter. Antoinette is a rather abrasive character. She's a women trying to make it in a predominantly male profession and she's struggling to find her place within it. She's convinced she's on her last legs with the murder squad, and that this case was given to her to drive the final nail into her proverbial coffin and her partner, Steve, will be collateral damage. All the pranks that have been played on her since she arrived in the Murder Squad have put a chip on her shoulder, and she's constantly on the defensive.

What I found quite interesting, as the story developed, was how similar Aislinn, the murder victim, was to Antoinette. I found quite a few parallels between the two, and I almost felt the two were mirror images of each other—both relative and opposite at the same time, and therein, in my humble opinion, lies the brilliance of the book. Both had grown up without their fathers during the critical years of their lives. Both had people keeping information about their fathers from them. Both had a hard time growing up. Both were underestimated because they were women. I think it’s safe to say both had tempers. Interestingly, however, they took two very different paths. Aislinn used her gender to her advantage while Antoinette had it used against her. One chose vengeance while the other chose to avenge others. By comparing the two, I could see how Antoinette’s life could have taken a very different path. I felt the way the book played out was the author's way of trying to make us see how thin the line there is between right and wrong and how easy it is to cross.

Favorite quotes:
- 'You can knock down a genuine belief, if you load up with enough facts that contradict it; but a belief that’s built on nothing except who the person wants to be, nothing can crumble that.'

- 'I was doing exactly the same thing as Aislinn: getting lost so deep inside the story in my head, I couldn’t see past its walls to the outside world. I feel those walls shift and start to waver, with a rumble that shakes my bones from the inside out. I feel my face naked to the ice-flavored air that pours through the cracks and keeps coming. A great shiver is building in my back.'

- 'Every murderer says that to us, sooner or later. You weren’t there. You don’t understand. There’s a small dry chip of silence while no one points that out.'


Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I loved the different nuances between Aislinn and Antoinette's personalities. While I guessed who dunnit early on, I enjoyed the twist that I didn't see coming. I wish the book would have explored how Antoinette dealt with the information she'd uncovered about what was behind the squad's attitude towards her. It felt like a subject that should have been broached. Additionally, I would have liked Antoinette's side of the story of what actually went down. She only hinted at it when she stated the person used enough truth to make their lie believable. I kept wondering what truly happened?


The order of the Dublin Murder Squad:
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